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[Markets] Glenn Greenwald Exposes Deep State Effort To Stop Trump Pardoning Edward Snowden And Julian Assange Glenn Greenwald Exposes Deep State Effort To Stop Trump Pardoning Edward Snowden And Julian Assange

Authored by Adam Dick via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

There was much speculation toward the end of Donald Trump’s term as president of the United States that Trump would pardon Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, or both of these men who were responsible for exposing vast amounts of wrongdoing by the US government. But, it did not come to pass. Why? Glenn Greenwald, who played a key role in helping Snowden expose information about the US government’s mass surveillance programs and who advocated in public and behind the scenes that Trump pardon both men, has some interesting thoughts about that.

The reason Trump failed to issue a pardon for either Snowden or Assange centers on the deep state trying to protect itself by placing Trump in jeopardy, suggested Greenwald last week in an episode of his System Update show.

In a written introduction for the episode, Greenwald notes that Trump, while president, had both “raised the possibility that he might pardon Snowden” and was “actively considering a pardon for Assange.”

Greenwald, in the introduction, zeros in on a recent interview of Trump by Candace Owens. In the interview, Trump stated he came “very close” to pardoning one of them but did not ultimately do so. Why? Trump said the reason was because Trump “was too nice” to issue the pardon.

Greenwald isn’t buying that explanation. He writes:

The question that obviously emerges from that answer: too nice to whom? To the U.S. security services — the CIA, NSA and FBI — which had spent four years doing everything possible to sabotage and undermine Trump and his presidency with their concoction of Russiagate and other leaks of false accusations to their corporate media allies? Too nice to the war-mongering servants of the military-industrial complex in the establishment wings of both parties who were the allies of those security services in attempting to derail Trump's America First foreign policy agenda? Too nice to John Brennan, James Clapper and Susan Rice, the Obama-era security officials most eager to see both Assange and Snowden rot in prison for life because they exposed Obama's spying crimes and the Democrats’ corruption in 2016? Trump's “I'm too nice” explanation is, shall we say, less than persuasive.

In the System Update episode, Greenwald further explains that Trump’s enmity toward these deep state forces that helped lead Greenwald and many other individuals to think that Trump may issue the pardons:

Now the argument for why President Trump not only should have pardoned Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, but why some of us believed there was a chance that he could didn't rely on the benevolence of President Trump. It relied on the fact that he knew better than anybody how deceitful and abusive and dangerous these agencies are. The agencies that were exposed by Snowden and Assange and the ones that were demanding that they be imprisoned forever. He knew, as well as anybody, the treachery and the illegal interference in our domestic politics because he was one of their targets.

Yet, the pardons did not materialize. Why? Greenwald states that Greenwald “knew that Trump wanted to pardon Edward Snowden and had strongly considered pardoning Julian Assange.” But, continues Greenwald, Trump “got scared into pardoning neither of them for reasons I'm about to explain to you.” Greenwald then argues that ultimately Trump gave in to deep state pressure applied through Republican Senators’ threat to convict Trump on the impeachment brought against him in his final weeks in office. Says Greenwald:

They were making very clear to him explicitly clear Republican senators like Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell that if you do any of those things that you are considering doing, pardoning Assange and Snowden, declassifying JFK files, declassifying other secrets that should have been declassified long ago because they're from decades old treachery on the part of the US government, we will vote to impeach you. They had this leverage the sword of Damocles hanging over his head….

“This is the story of why the deep state yet again got its way,” concludes Greenwald in his System Update episode, “even with a person in the White House who knows firsthand just how evil and destructive and toxic they are.”

Watch the System Update episode, and read the introduction and transcript, here.

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/16/2022 - 18:30
Published:1/16/2022 5:59:55 PM
[World] Michelle Obama enters politics with vengeance, bent on revenge

Michelle Obama, former first lady, just announced she's partnering her foundation, When We All Vote, with 30 other groups to register a million new voters before the midterms.

It’s go time for the left. Her entry into election politicking guarantees this fight over the Electoral College is ... Published:1/11/2022 1:40:23 PM

[Markets] Turley: Democracy, Autocracy... Or Hypocrisy? Biden Calls For Changing The Filibuster Rule Turley: Democracy, Autocracy... Or Hypocrisy? Biden Calls For Changing The Filibuster Rule

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

According to the Associated Press, President Joe Biden today will support changing the filibuster rule for voting rights legislation — a move widely viewed as effectively killing the rule. The report says that Biden will portray the choice starkly as one between democracy and autocracy. The AP, however, does not reference the third option of hypocrisy by failing to note that Biden vehemently opposed such moves for decades. He previously denounced killing the rule as “disastrous” for our democracy but now will declare the rule itself to be an existential threat to democracy. It is the latest example of President Biden’s embrace of “whatever it takes politics.

Biden will use a speech at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to complete his abandonment of his long-held position. AP quotes his expected address to include the following statement:

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation. Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is where will the institution of United States Senate stand?”

Biden showed equal passion as a senator to denounce those who would find excuses for abandoning the filibuster rule. He called such efforts “disastrous” and proclaimed: “God save us from that fate … [it] would change this fundamental understanding and unbroken practice of what the Senate is all about.”

After six months of uncomfortable silence as president, Biden later said that, as president, he continued to support the rule. Putting aside certain factual and historical errors, Biden declared that killing the rule would “throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done. There’s a lot at stake. The most important one is the right to vote, that’s the single most important one.”

It appears now that, even if “God [might still] save us from that fate,” the President will not.

His colleagues, including then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and now-Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), gave equally full-throated endorsements of the rule being denounced today as a thoroughly racist relic.  Schumer, who is now also pushing for the change, previously said to abandon the rule would be “doomsday for Democracy” and reduce the United States to a “banana Republic.”

While President Biden may have found his natural resting place in the conflict between politics and principle, the move against the filibuster rule will only aggravate our deep divisions.

The Democrats would force through a sweeping federalization of state election laws for the first time in our history. It would federally preempt the laws in dozens of states and declare that Congress, not state legislatures, will now dictate how people vote in states like Georgia. It is notable that Georgian politicians like Sen. Raphael Warnock will be standing next to Biden in Atlanta as the President calls for setting aside Georgia’s own laws. (Stacey Abrams who is running for governor will not attend the event). Previously, Biden was criticized for misrepresenting the provisions of the Georgia law.

What is most striking is the inherent conflict in this logic. President Biden is going to a state where representatives passed voting rules as part of their democratic process. He is effectively saying that they must protect democracy from itself and support Washington dictating the rules in Georgia.

While denouncing the “Big Lie” of those who questioned the last election, Democrats in the same breath are arguing that the next election might be illegitimate or might be stolen under current election laws. Democratic leaders have insisted that Trump began that Big Lie by seeding doubts months in advance of the 2020 election due to the laws in blue states. Now those leaders are seeding the same doubts about the laws in red states before the 2022 election. (Indeed, despite recent denials, some of these same leaders who denounced the Big Lie are the same people who previously called the Trump election “illegitimate” and some supported challenges to electoral votes in Congress).

It is also worth noting that federal laws already protect against rules that inhibit or curtail the votes of minority citizens. Other laws are subject to judicial review if they curtail the right to vote generally. Indeed, many of these laws are being challenged by Democrats in court. The federal legislation is needed because these laws have been upheld by the courts as constitutional and nondiscriminatory.

For some voters in these states, the federal takeover of their election laws is not likely to resonate as a victory of democracy. Election laws have largely been left to the states in our constitutional system. If those laws are constitutional, the view was that each state could follow its own approach to issues like voter identification rules. While the Congress can condition the receipt of federal funds on improving election administration (and reinforce constitutional protections for minority voters through laws like the Voting Rights Act), this is an unprecedented federalization of election laws to dictate how elections are administered.

In abandoning his long-held position, President Biden is choosing divisive politics over principle. This will further deepen the anger and divisions in our country. It will fuel claims that these laws are somehow illegitimate or laying the foundation for autocracy.

I previously wrote why the filibuster rule was designed for times like this:

Pushing through such controversial measures with bare majorities and on straight party lines will only deepen the divisions and increase the rage in this country. So this is precisely a time when the filibuster can play a positive role, by forcing legislation to pass with a modest level of bipartisan support. It requires consensus and compromise at a time of growing, violent division.

The filibuster has gone through historic controversies through the centuries, from opposing Caesar to opposing civil rights. But as a consensus-forcing rule, its time may have arrived, to the chagrin of many.

This move may also be soon regretted.

It is not likely to succeed but would put virtually all of the Democratic senators on record for calling for the demise of the rule. With the possible GOP takeover of both houses, the Democrats are sawing at the branch upon which their future may rest.

It was the Democrats who unwisely created the exception to the filibuster for judicial candidates in 2010. The Republicans later used that change as an excuse for an exception for Supreme Court nominees. Nevertheless, the GOP senators refused the demands of President Trump to abandon the rule for legislative matters when they were in the majority. Now, the Democrats would create an exception that could easily result in the total abandonment of the rule.

Since they are unlikely to succeed, it would be better to reaffirm support for the filibuster rule as a protection against losing the Senate in 2022.  However, short-term political interests seem to be prevailing. Biden is becoming unpopular with the left and he is now abandoning his prior principled stand for political convenience. It is a Faustian bargain that I expect that the Democrats could soon regret.

Tyler Durden Tue, 01/11/2022 - 14:30
Published:1/11/2022 1:40:22 PM
[] Politico: Dems call in Epstein frequent flier to convince Manchin to kill the filibuster Published:1/8/2022 5:32:12 AM
[Markets] The Inevitability Of Kamala Harris The Inevitability Of Kamala Harris

Authored by Luke Thompson via SpectatorWorld.com,

I come neither to bury Kamala nor to praise her...

Commentary on her vice presidency is polarized. Harris’s well-known praise chorus is completely deranged. True, she is the first woman to become vice president, and only the second “person of color,” to use a term in vogue. These are historic achievements to those who understand history through the thick lens of demographic taxonomy.

True, also, Harris has over the last year shown a near-total lack of the political skill generally needed to make a serious run at the presidency. She has been given large projects and failed to advance the administration’s goals. She has not improved as a speaker and comes across as indifferent, haughty and detached. Her approval ratings lag even those of her feckless boss. Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg — mediocrity made flesh — labors to supplant her as heir apparent with surprising brazenness.

Nonetheless, just as Harris’s chromosomes and skin color will not win her the White House, nor will her weaknesses as a candidate doom her to the political sideline should Joe Biden forego a 2024 reelection run. Kamala Harris remains the person most likely to win her party’s nomination in a post-Biden world, for reasons not reducible to the familiarity that comes from four years in the vice presidency.

The White House, it would seem, has realized this. The last week has seen a well-executed rollout of Kamala puff pieces, launched on Monday with dueling profiles — one schmaltz and one serious — in the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. These were followed by a CBS News piece lavishing her with praise for her heretofore unknown role in getting the bipartisan infrastructure bill across the finish line.

As I wrote at The Spectator in July 2020, picking Harris to be VP showed concerns with the “here and now” of winning the presidential campaign rather than the governing that came later. A year into his presidency, Biden appears to be waking up to the difficult reality that pick created. Harris comes from the Democratic heartland, can tie together, however loosely, the major voting blocs of her party, enjoys an institutional position that gives her structural advantages over her prospective rivals, and will thus almost certainly be Biden’s successor should he exit, mumbling, stage left in 2024.

There has never been a state with the influence over a single party that California exerts over the Democrats today. Nearly one in eight Americans resides in the Golden State, which went to both Clinton and Biden nearly two-to-one. Culturally, California calls the tune for affluent white liberals and progressives. Materially, its major industries — entertainment, tech, finance, public sector unions and renewable energy — fund and backstop Democratic campaigns. Only mid-century New York compares, but whereas the Empire State exercised outsized influence in both parties because it would swing between them, California is a Republican afterthought even though the GOP House leader hails from Bakersfield.

So long as she controls California, Harris can make life very difficult for any prospective challengers seeking volunteers, operatives and dollars. If, as seems likely, Democrats demote the Iowa caucuses and give Nevada the first presidential nominating contest, having a political infrastructure in neighboring California will only become more, not less, valuable.

The Democratic bench, already so desperately thin that Mayor Milquetoast is viewed as a plausible standard-bearer, looks even thinner when one turns southward. To put the matter bluntly, even if they do not love her, who could win Southern black voters away from Kamala Harris in a Democratic primary? Warren? No. Klobuchar? C’mon. Buttigieg? No way. Mitch Landrieu will enjoy fawning Morning Joe coverage, but it will make no difference to the eventual implausibility of his candidacy.

Finally, Biden’s own political incentives help Harris. Even if Joe decides tomorrow to forego reelection, he’ll keep the decision a secret for as long as possible. Making himself a lame duck any earlier than necessary would bury his effectiveness in office. As a result, Biden will freeze the field by giving every indication of running for reelection even if he has no intention of following through on the threat. No other Democrat can ramp up a large political apparatus without appearing to be challenging Biden as the incumbent.

Harris, by contrast, enjoys institutional benefits by virtue of her position. She can fly around the country, hold political rallies nominally for her own reelection as vice president, and keep close tabs on the Democratic Party apparatus. This advantage could only be checked by the active intervention of Biden himself or, failing that, from Barack Obama, who still enjoys godlike status among Democratic primary voters. Yet Obama has no reason to intervene against Harris, who has followed his model even as she lacks his rhetorical and political skills.

And so, like it or not, Democrats ought to get used to the idea of nominating Kamala Harris if Biden doesn’t run. They’re unlikely to have much of a choice.

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/24/2021 - 00:20
Published:12/24/2021 3:23:24 AM
[World] Kavanaugh, Barrett's silence degrades religious freedom

They did it again. Two of former President Donald Trump’s allegedly constitutional conservative Supreme Court justices sided this week with left-wing Obama-appointee Justice Sonia Sotomayor in allowing New York State’s nullification of religious exemptions to its onerous vaccine mandate for all health care workers. 

The first time Justices Amy Coney ... Published:12/18/2021 2:24:20 AM

[Right Column] Owning a car is outdated ’20th-century thinking’ & we must move to ‘shared mobility’ to cut carbon emissions, UK transport minister says

Owning a car is outdated '20th-century thinking', transport minister says - Trudy Harrison, 45, is also Boris Johnson's parliamentary private secretary - She said the UK should move to 'shared mobility' to cut carbon emissions 

#

Marc Morano: "You were warned! Don't be surprised when the climate agenda is successful in taking away private car ownership and use. They have literally been talking about this since the 1970s and now with the power of COVID lockdowns, they see a real possibility of success."

Flashback: Dem presidential candidate Andrew Yang: Climate Change May Require Elimination of Car Ownership – Suggests ‘constant roving fleet of electric cars’– “We might not own our own cars.”

UK funded 2019 report ‘Absolute Zero’ urged climate lockdowns: ‘Stop flying…no new roads, airport closures…stop eating beef & lamb…stop doing anything that causes emissions’ – Regulate CO2 similar to ‘asbestos’

Published:12/12/2021 1:24:12 AM
[World] Bumbling Joe Biden's foreign policy disasters

Robert Gates was right. In his book titled, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," the former Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama said that President Joe Biden has "been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past ... Published:12/10/2021 8:24:51 PM

[Politics] “Don’t say anything” – Staff vaccinates student WITHOUT parent’s permission at Barack Obama middle school A student was vaccinated without his parent’s permission by a staffer at Barack Obama Global Prep Academy in South Los Angeles. The staffer told the student not to say anything because they . . . Published:12/8/2021 10:23:47 AM
[Biden Administration] Biden Bunk Brigade at It Again Today (Steven Hayward) Having yesterday celebrated a 2-cent drop in gasoline prices like it was V-J Day, the Biden circle (this time in the form of Steven Rattner, the Obama Administration’s “car czar”) lit out with this howler about the tiny uptick in today’s jobs report: And while we’re revisiting the topic of gasoline prices again, here’s another look at it: Chaser: Let’s go Brandon! Maybe this will be tomorrow’s message: Published:12/3/2021 2:23:38 PM
[Markets] Warmongers Would Let Ukraine Become World War III Warmongers Would Let Ukraine Become World War III

Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog,

They just won't let it go. It seems many of the so-called "warmongers" are hellbent on turning Ukraine into a major war whether the countries involved want it or not. History shows what has become known as "proxy wars" create profits for companies manufacturing weapons. The cost, of course, is then pawned off on taxpayers and a public preoccupied with personal concerns. Such talk of war is probably viewed as a blessing by President Biden and a White House that has been battered with bad press.

The proof that Ukraine is unlikely to go quietly into the night is reinforced by a slew of news stories over the last few days. It includes items such as the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is warning of "unusual Russian military activity" near the nation's borders and in the annexed peninsula of Crimea or that Canada is now considering larger deployments to Ukraine.

Nothing ramps up the hype like the headline, "Ukraine fears that Russia may be preparing to invade." Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's defense intelligence agency, said last weekend. He went on to say that Russia had more than 92,000 troops amassed at the border and could attack as early as the end of January. In reaction, not only is Canada looking at deploying hundreds of additional troops to support the Canadian soldiers already in Ukraine on a training mission, it is considering redeploying some of the CF-18 fighter jets currently based in Romania.

NATO Has Slowly Expanded Towards Russia

I stand with those arguing this has little to do with Russia taking over the world or Ukraine's national sovereignty. It is about money, energy, and power. Several years ago I wrote a piece that urged America to stay out of a war in Ukraine. It also warned of the major advantage Putin held by having a huge well-armed army just across the Ukrainian border and that any army cobbled together to face him would most likely be unenthusiastic and politically troubled. Another reason provoking Russia is a horrible idea is that it creates the potential the current "minor skirmish" could explode into World War III with nuclear bombs entering the mix.

When President Obama was in office he pulled out all the stops to paint Putin with a brush dipped in all the bad colors. Every Sunday in interview after interview Washington experts were paraded across the screens of the talk shows denouncing Putin as a "thug and a bully." This description of the former KGB officer is so ingrained in their repertoire that they seldom describe him in any other terms unless it is to add the words "dangerous or menace" to highlight the fact we should all be afraid. Clearly, the U.S. establishment loathes Putin and constantly paints him as an aggressor, a tyrant, and a killer that invaded and occupied Crimea. The fact is, it is NATO that has slowly been expanding towards Russia since Putin took power in late 1999. 

In 1999, Russia was defenseless, bankrupt, and being carved up by a group stealing its resources in collusion with America. Putin changed that and resurrected the crumbling empire once again into a nation-state with coherence and purpose. Putin is credited with halting the theft of his country’s wealth by the plutocracy and restoring Russia's military strength. Putin's biggest sin may be that with blunt rhetoric he refused to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world under a system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. The fact is many Russians credit him with saving Russia. Today, after two decades in power, Putin’s approval rating exceeds that of many Western leaders.

Ukrainian Soldiers Killed In An Unwinnable War

Reports from the front in Ukraine are often buried or hidden from public view but they appear to confirm that Ukrainian troops are being sent into a meat grinder.  Putting more weapons into the hands of those unmotivated to fight for their corrupt state is merely adding fuel to this fire and doing more harm than good. Again, remember Ukraine is a financially failed state and while we can point to its potential, its massive oil and gas reserves by all rights should belong to the Ukrainian people. The IMF, however, points out that Kiev needs billions in loans and grants just to stabilize its economy after more than twenty years of massive levels of corruption. This debt and the deep, deep hole Ukraine dug itself into after a series of bad governments ran the country after it became independent of the Soviet Union.

The euro-zone currently faces a lot of problems without jumping into a proxy war against rebels in Ukraine. I use the term proxy because without the money and backing of outsiders things would most likely go quiet. The failed and bankrupt country of Ukraine would most likely break into two parts with the eastern half and its people who share strong ties with Russia aligning itself with that country and Kiev, and the western-oriented portion of the country drifting towards stronger ties to the euro-zone. What is the big problem with such a solution? A great deal if you ask those in Washington that are pushing for more intervention in Ukraine. As to what motivates their desire to turn the area into a giant killing field several possibilities exist but it is mostly money and profit.

War In Ukraine Is About Money, Energy, And Power!

Foreign policy has often been used as a tool to advance national interest which is often dictated by economics. When it comes to the economy, energy is often considered the blood from which all strength flows and in the case of Europe the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline designed to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany remains a bone of contention. Several European countries see the pipeline as being designed to increase their energy reliance on Moscow.

Those opposed to the pipeline continue to argue that "Gazprom" is not only a gas company but a platform for Russian coercion and another tool for Russia to pressure European countries. Under a provision in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the U.S. State Department has even threatened European corporations with ties to the pipeline on the grounds that "the project undermines energy security in Europe".

To confuse the issue and muddy the waters great efforts have been made at high levels by those advocating military action to paint Russia as an aggressor. These forces aided by the media continue to link Russia's move into the majority ethnic-Russian Crimea region as a violation of Ukraine's sovereign border. The whole argument of sovereign borders is a little gem promoted by those in power, these borders are a creation of man and not visible to the birds flying above. This is an argument of convenience that masks deeper issues and the difference between "terrorist" and "freedom fighters" often depends on a person's point of view. In this case, it is clearly the new American-backed government in Kiev that is pushing to bring the eastern part of Ukraine back into the fold.

Adding Ukraine to NATO and the EU is a long-held dream of neocons like Victoria Nuland and neoliberals like Biden. This is also important to those supporting the World Economic Forum’s desire to expand the EU and encircle Russia.  Putin has long been a thorn in the side of the NWO gang. After entering office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed Decree No. 117/2021 activating the Ukraine Army to recapture and re-unify with Ukraine, the autonomous region of Crimea, and the city of Sevastopol. This was in total conflict with his promise to end the now nearly seven-year-long war in eastern Ukraine that played a central role in his election in 2019. This indicates Zelensky has continued to subordinate his government’s policies to the US and NATO.  

What this boils down to is that American companies want to sell and supply Europe with Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and they seem willing to start a war to make it happen. Whether it is for profit or to minimize the threat of natural gas shipments to Europe being cut off and used as a key weapon in Russia’s political arsenal we cannot ignore the idea more is at play here than just doing the "right thing". 

Many people in the "Tin Foil Hat" community have gone so far as to indicate they feel that America and elements of the CIA were involved or had a part in the overthrow of the former corrupt Ukraine government and its replacement with another corrupt but more pro Europe regime. At the time even America's Vice President, Joe Biden, saw his son join the board of a private Ukrainian oil and natural gas company. We should assume not only those involved in selling energy to Europe will profit from stopping the flow of energy from Russia but also the military-industrial complex stands to gain.

Without a war, the odds of U.S. LNG significantly displacing Russian natural gas shipped by pipeline are slim. Piped gas sells at a large discount to LNG, which must be cooled to liquid form, shipped overseas, and turned back into its gaseous form. Poland recently received its first shipment of U.S. LNG last month from what is currently the only export facility in the lower 48 states. While LNG trade between the United States and Europe would help reduce the U.S. trade deficit it also stands to improve energy security among the European countries by giving them an alternative to Russian gas. 

Still, it is not a cure-all, Russia can easily cut prices and adjust terms to maintain its dominant position in the European gas market and European countries are likely to continue buying most of their gas from the lowest-cost supplier. Bottom-line, Russia has traditionally been the major supplier of European gas. But it charges high prices, often in the form of long-term contracts linked to the price of oil. The overwhelming dependence on Russian gas leaves European countries from a national security standpoint vulnerable to a cutoff of crucial natural gas supplies. 

This would be devastating to their economies at any time but even more so in the depths of winter. For these reasons, it makes sense for Europe to consider alternative supplies and open its doors to U.S. LNG. Regardless of the politics at play, danger lurks from flooding Ukraine with weapons, and using the people of Ukraine as pawns in this high-stakes game violates all standards of human decency. Americans should also be aware that our current policy drives Russia towards the East and into the open arms of China. This creates even more problems long-term than it solves short-term and borders on the edge of insanity.

Upping tensions in the area is the fact the Kerch Strait Bridge, also known as the Crimean Bridge, is now a target that Russia will make every effort to protect. Comprised of a pair of Russian-constructed parallel bridges it spans the Strait of Kerch between the Taman Peninsula and the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea. The bridge complex provides for both road and rail traffic and has a length of 19 km. This makes it the longest bridge Russia has ever built.

The war in Ukraine has not developed organically but appears to be the product of meddling. It could be argued that Biden is pushing for more military action to cover up the corruption and sins of his family that occurred in Ukraine. Mercenaries and money from America appear to be backing and propping up Kiev with America acting as the "champion" for this failed bankrupt country.  The best way for the West and Kiev to prove they are on the right path is by letting the eastern part of the country secede and then making Kiev a center of economic and democratic success. 

Since the latest ceasefire agreement in the war in Donbas was implemented in July 2020, it appears the situation has not grown worse. This indicates rocking the boat is a bad idea. We can only hope those monitoring the recent events in Ukraine saying this will someday be looked back upon as the beginning of World War III are wrong. Some war game players have indicated that China could use a larger war in Ukraine to rapidly move on Taiwan. After our experiences in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, I'm forced to wonder what these fools are getting us into?

*  *  *

Footnote; The following link takes you to a YouTube video of what is labeled "Insane Ukraine Fighting." It is roughly an hour of idiots firing in the air and wasting ammo, and that is the current war.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/01/2021 - 05:00
Published:12/1/2021 4:23:33 AM
[Politics] A Faltering Biden Is Pursuing Arms Control Ahead of Freedom High gas prices, American retreat abroad, urban crime, drug addiction, and talk of an Olympic boycott are all contributing to a sense that America is experiencing a kind of rerun of the late-1970s. As if those factors weren't enough, add arms control. American representatives are back in Vienna this week for another round of indirect talks on reviving the Obama-era deal with Iran that granted the Islamic republic $700 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for promises to freeze its nuclear... Published:11/29/2021 11:23:42 PM
[Democrats] Bezos ‘Greases’ Way Into Dem Establishment With $100 Million Obama Donation

Faced with scorn from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos appears ready to "grease" his way into the Democratic establishment with a $100 million donation to the Obama Foundation, according to Puck News.

The post Bezos ‘Greases’ Way Into Dem Establishment With $100 Million Obama Donation appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:11/22/2021 5:23:00 PM
[Anti-Americanism] The “Justice” system is now entirely perverted

The Biden regime has fully weaponized the entire justice system and it is a growing malignancy. There is one system of justice for democrats and the left and another for Republicans and the right.  Serious weaponization of the Justice Department took hold under the Obama regime but has gotten completely out of control. One manifestation […]

The post The “Justice” system is now entirely perverted appeared first on Flopping Aces.

Published:11/15/2021 11:23:25 AM
[Markets] How Soros' Secret Network Used Ukraine To Cover For Hillary, Hunter, & Target Donald Trump How Soros' Secret Network Used Ukraine To Cover For Hillary, Hunter, & Target Donald Trump

Via The National Pulse,

The following is an excerpt from Matt Palumbo’s forthcoming book The Man Behind the Curtain: Inside the Secret Network of George Soros.

Pre-order a copy before it’s banned

(emphasis ours)

The Soros Circle: AntAC

In 2014, Soros’s International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) and its grantees were active supporters in the creation of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC) of Ukraine, a powerful NGO. Through the end of 2018, 17 percent of AntAC’s funding was coming from Soros’s group.

AntAC is run by Daria Kaleniuk, an American-educated lawyer. White House logs show Kaleniuk visited on December 9, 2015, reportedly meeting with Eric Ciaramella, the CIA employee many suspect is the anonymous whistleblower that sparked Trump’s first impeachment, the source of which was a faultless phone call with Ukraine’s president.

AntAC was responsible for creating the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), a law enforcement group separate from the prosecutor general’s office that was tasked with handling the biggest corruption cases. It has investigatory powers but cannot indict suspects. Only when it passes its findings to prosecutors does a subject of its inquiry become part of a criminal case. The agency was established in 2014 at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after its predecessor, the National Anti-Corruption Committee, was deemed a failure. Western governments funded NABU, which also enjoyed the backing of the FBI. Like all the Orwellian names of groups Soros had a part in, NABU acts independently in name only.

With the Obama DOJ’s launch of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, aimed at battling large-scale public corruption in foreign states, the State Department, DOJ, and FBI began outsourcing some of their own work to AntAC.

In February 2015, Viktor Shokin was appointed prosecutor general of Ukraine, and was soon scrutinized for helping the owner of the energy company Burisma. Shokin had helped owner Mykola Zlochevsky regain control of $23 million that was frozen by British authorities. Burisma was made famous by Hunter Biden’s involvement in the company, and Zlochevsky was the one who struck the deal to appoint Hunter to the company’s board of directors in 2014 at a reported salary of $83,333 per month.

AntAC’s stance on Shokin was made clear; it tweeted on December 2015 that “One of the major goals of #AntAC for 2016 is to force #Shokin to resign.”

Shokin attempted to begin a probe into Burisma that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”

This never materialized because Joe Biden (then Vice President) threatened to withhold a $1 billion loan to Ukraine unless Skokin was removed as prosecutor general. Biden even bragged about it on video to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018, stating that when he attended a meeting with Ukraine’s president and prime minister, he said, “‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”

Biden insisted the U.S. wanted Shokin removed over corruption concerns shared by the European Union. But in tapes released by Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, Biden and Poroshenko reveal that the Ukrainian president admitted to doing Biden’s bidding. The quid pro quo is proven.

“Despite the fact that (Shokin) didn’t have any corruption charges, we don’t have any information about him doing something wrong, I especially asked him…to resign.”

In another recording from March 22, 2016, the two allegedly discussed who would be appointed prosecutor general of Ukraine, and then who would be their eventual replacement. Former prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko was mentioned. The White House issued a press release confirming the pair talked again on this date.

At the end of the call, Biden said, “I’m a man of my word. And now that the new prosecutor general is in place, we’re ready to move forward to signing that new $1 billion loan guarantee.”

Derkach would later be punished for allegedly exposing Biden’s call with Poroshenko.

After the audio was made public, Poroshenko’s successor Volodymyr Zelensky called for an investigation into the recordings, and the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Derkach, describing the audio as “unsupported information” part of a campaign to “discredit U.S. officials.” They also accused Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, of being a “Russian agent.” 

The sanctions came less than a year after Derkach met with Rudy Giuliani in Kiev, which reports at the time said was to discuss possible misuse of U.S. tax dollars by Ukraine’s government.

...

A few months later, Yuriy Lutsenko was named prosecutor general and met with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Lutsenko recalls being stunned when the ambassador gave him a list of people who shouldn’t be prosecuted. The list included a founder of AntAC, and two members of Ukrainian Parliament who supported AntAC’s anticorruption agenda (while benefitting from corruption themselves).

As John Solomon puts it, the implied message to Lutsenko was clear: “Don’t target AntAC in the middle of an American presidential election in which Soros was backing Hillary Clinton to succeed another Soros favorite, Barack Obama.”

So what was motivating George Kent and Ambassador Yovanovitch to influence investigations in Ukraine of all places?

The fact that Ukraine dealt with an organization created with the backing of the Obama administration, State Department, FBI, and George Soros.

An investigation into AntAC could expose a whole chest of secrets - the least of which being that they’re not all concerned with corruption like they claim...

...

The hunt for any information that could possibly damage President Trump or anyone connected to him was now on.

Read the rest of the excerpt here at The National Pulse...

Be sure to get the book by clicking here

It’s also on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/12/2021 - 23:40
Published:11/13/2021 1:24:05 AM
[Markets] Who Decides What Kids Should Be Taught? Who Decides What Kids Should Be Taught?

Authored by Pat Buchanan,

Virginia is a newly blue state, with a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators, that Joe Biden won by 10 points.

Hence, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe was an early and solid favorite to regain the office he vacated in 2017. But if McAuliffe loses Tuesday, the defeat will be measured on the Richter scale.

For if he does lose, it will be because of an elitist belief McAuliffe blurted out during a debate with Republican rival Glenn Youngkin:

“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions. … I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Yet, during his own term as governor, one Virginia school district pulled copies of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn” out of the schools because of the books’ use of racial slurs.

What McAuliffe was saying was that the knowledge, truths and beliefs imparted to children in public schools are to be determined by school officials and teachers alone. Parents have no role and should butt out.

His dismissal of any parental role in education did more than cause a backlash against McAuliffe. It put on the national agenda an issue that will be engaged and fought long after this Virginia governor’s race is over.

Former President Barack Obama was not amused at Virginia’s reaction to McAuliffe’s rejection of any parental role in education.

“We don’t have time to be wasting on these phony, trumped-up culture wars,” said Obama during a campaign stop for McAuliffe.

But to the voters of Virginia, who have been moving to Youngkin since McAuliffe made his now-famous remark, these are real issues.

For what their children are taught and not taught in the public schools to which parents consign them from age 5 to age 18 are matters of grave concern for those parents. For it will affect the kind of adults and citizens their children will become.

“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man” is a saying attributed to the Jesuits’ founder St. Ignatius of Loyola.

These schools are helping shape what children come to believe about the moral, social and historical issues tearing our country apart. These schools are helping shape the men and women these children will become.

Consider. Under the landmark Supreme Court rulings in Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges, abortion and same-sex marriage have been made constitutional rights. Yet both decisions contradict biblical truths, Catholic doctrine and natural law.

While both decisions are today the law of the land, have parents no right to object if public-school teachers instruct their students that these decisions were right, moral and just? Do students and parents have no right to dissent, both inside and outside the classroom?

According to the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” American history began when the first slaves arrived in Virginia, not when the colonies declared independence in 1776 or when the Constitution was ratified.

Do parents have no right to object if the tenets of critical race theory — that America is shot through with “systemic racism,” that whites are privileged from birth and blacks oppressed — are taught as truth about the country to which they have given their loyalty and love?

For generations, statues to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson stood on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. Now that the statues are torn down, both are reviled as “traitors.”

Yet, until he was 40 years of age, George Washington was a loyal British subject. But when Virginia rose up against the British Crown, Washington joined the rebellion. Robert E. Lee was also a loyal U.S. soldier and hero of the Mexican War, until his home state Virginia seceded.

Both men were slave-owners. The great difference: Washington was victorious at Yorktown, and Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

President Dwight Eisenhower regarded Lee, whose portrait he hung in the Oval Office, as among the greatest of all Americans.

Whose view of Lee should be taught? Eisenhower’s or Harvard’s?

The question raised by McAuliffe is: Who decides? Who, in the education of America’s children, decides what is historically, morally and socially true? And who is allowed to participate in those decisions?

The nation is today divided over whether America is a good and a great country, or whether it has been irredeemably stained by its sins against the indigenous peoples and slavery. As the Dutch historian Pieter Geyl said, “History is indeed an argument without end.”

Again, the question: Who decides which version is taught in the public schools that are paid for with the tax dollars of the parents who send their children there?

Middle America’s view of the country is more than a little distant from the Ivy League’s, and somewhat closer to Merle Haggard’s. “When you’re running down my country, you’re walking on the fighting side of me.”

Whatever happens Tuesday, “the McAuliffe issue” will be on the table in the elections of 2022.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/29/2021 - 15:15
Published:10/29/2021 2:25:49 PM
[Department of Justice] Merrick Garland Testifies (John Hinderaker) Today Attorney General Merrick Garland testified before the House Judiciary Committee. The testimony lasted for more than five hours, and I haven’t had time to watch any significant part of it. But here are a couple of excerpts. The first is Rep. Jim Jordan, excoriating the Biden administration and the Obama administration that preceded it for their many violations of Americans’ civil rights. I think it is quite well done: Published:10/21/2021 9:43:28 PM
[World] The First Post-National Country

If the Democratic party of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden gets its way, America may soon look a lot like Trudeau’s Canada.

The post The First Post-National Country appeared first on The American Conservative.

Published:10/19/2021 11:42:20 AM
[Markets] Bovard: When Barack Obama Got Away With Murder Bovard: When Barack Obama Got Away With Murder

Authored by Jim Bovard via The Libertarian Institute,

This week (Thursday) marked the 10th anniversary of the drone killing of Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, a 16 year old born in Colorado and killed in Yemen. He perished as part of Obama’s crackdown on terrorist suspects around the world. His father, who was also an American citizen, was killed two weeks earlier by another drone strike ordered by Obama.

I wrote a piece condemning Obama’s assassination program for Christian Science Monitor in 2011"Assassination Nation: Are There Any Limits on President Obama’s License to Kill?" I derided the Obama administration’s claim that the president possessed a "right to kill Americans without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object…Killings based solely on presidential commands radically transform the relation of the government to the citizenry."

Readers responded by calling for my assassination. My article mentioned an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit pressuring the Obama administration "to disclose the legal standard it uses to place US citizens on government kill lists." 

"Will R." was indignant: "We need to send Bovard and the ACLU to Iran. You shoot traders and the ACLU are a bunch of traders." (I was pretty sure the ACLU was not engaged in international commerce). "Jeff" took the high ground: "Hopefully there will soon be enough to add James Bovard to the [targeted killing] list." Another commenter—self-labeled as "Idiot Savant"—saw a grand opportunity: "Now if we can only convince [Obama] to use this [assassination] authority on the media, who have done more harm than any single terror target could ever dream of..."

Here’s a riff I did on Obama’s assassination program in 2013:

The Obama administration yesterday leaked out its confidential legal paper on killing Americans to NBC News. Obama’s legal wizards decided that the Fifth Amendment’s pledge that no citizen shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" is invalid in cases of imminent attack by terrorists.

Though this might sound reasonable, the memo proceeds to craft a totally bogus notion of "imminent." But, as John Glaser notes at Antiwar.com, "The memo refers to what it calls a 'broader concept of imminence' than what has traditionally been required, like actual intelligence an ongoing plot against the US. 'The condition that an operational leader present an 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,' the memo states, contradicting conventional international law."

Obama top adviser Robert Gibbs had said the 16-year old should have had "a more responsible father" when asked directly about the assassination by drone...

In a January 2017 USA Today piece, I urged Trump to open the files on Obama’s killings:

"Trump should quickly reveal the secret memos underlying Obama’s "targeted killing" drone assassination program.

Administration lawyers defeated lawsuits by the ACLUThe New York Times, and others seeking disclosure of key legal papers on how the president became judge, jury and executioner. A Trump administration could disclose the memos and white papers without endangering anything other than the reputation of the soon-to-be former president and his policymakers.

Didn’t happen. The Trump administration could have exposed vast numbers of abuses by the Obama administration the same way that Obama (partially) opened the files on some of President George W. Bush’s torture policy and other atrocities. But as usual, the Trump team blew the opportunity.

As a result, Obama can pirouette as a champion of civil liberties while the horrendous precedents he set continue to endanger Americans and anyone else in the world in the vicinity of people suspected of bad thoughts by the U.S. government.

Hat tip to Dan Alban, an Institute of Justice lawyer who has scourged the Justice Department, IRS, and plenty of other government agencies.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 23:50
Published:10/15/2021 11:15:22 PM
[Tech] Trump granted hip-hop manager clemency but left him in prison, lawyers claim

 

james rossmand

The waning days of Donald Trump’s presidency saw a carnival of celebrities and those with personal connections to him jostling for clemency. Trump obliged many of them, granting pardons to rappers Kodak Black and Lil Wayne and longtime allies Stephen K. Bannon and Roger Stone.

And then there was James Rosemond, known as “Jimmy Henchman,” a once-major player in the hip-hop industry who represented artists such as Salt-N-Pepa, the Game, Akon and Brandy before he was condemned to nine life terms for drug trafficking and murder for hire.

For years, Rosemond’s attorneys and a cadre of celebrity advocates — including retired National Football League great Jim Brown and the actor Michael K. Williams, who died last month — had argued that Rosemond was unjustly convicted, campaigning for President Barack Obama and then Trump to grant him clemency.

Late last year, it appeared to Rosemond’s advocates that they had succeeded. On Dec. 18, Trump called Brown and his wife, Monique, according to legal affidavits signed by the Browns. “Let’s get this guy home for Christmas,” Trump told the staff in his office during that call, the Browns said.

By the end of the conversation, the Browns said, they had no doubt that Trump meant he was commuting Rosemond’s sentence. Rosemond’s representatives say that they were told his family should go pick him up the following week and that loved ones traveled to West Virginia to be there when he walked out of prison after a decade inside.

The Browns’ affidavits are now central to a novel legal argument being advanced by Rosemond’s attorneys that speaks to the mad dash at the end of the Trump administration, when celebrity and influence injected even more uncertainty than usual into the unsettled, high-stakes law of presidential clemency.

In a petition filed Thursday afternoon in federal court in West Virginia, Rosemond’s attorneys claim that Trump’s conversation with Jim and Monique Brown constituted a public communication that he was commuting Rosemond’s sentence, which they said is all that is required to make the decision binding and irreversible.

“Rosemond is serving a sentence that no longer exists,” his attorneys write. Though the 20-page petition cites obscure examples of informal presidential clemency decrees dating to President Abraham Lincoln’s handling of Civil War deserters, Rosemond’s attorneys acknowledge in the document that “this exact situation is unprecedented — it does not appear to have happened in the history of the United States.”

In a statement to The Washington Post, Rosemond attorney Michael Rayfield said that despite the lack of precedent, “it’s clear to me that Jimmy doesn’t belong in prison for another day.”

Jim and Monique Brown declined to be interviewed, because, their attorney said, they anticipated that they may be called as witnesses if the habeas corpus petition — a tool used by prisoners to argue they are wrongfully imprisoned — moves forward. A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Mark Osler, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota who has argued for changes to the presidential clemency process, said that the argument “presents a fascinating question that hasn’t been addressed in modern times.”

“They’ve got a good point, which is that the Constitution does not set out a method to the granting of clemency,” Osler said. While in other cases, presidents, including Trump, signed pardon warrants, “there’s no statute or constitutional provision that requires that.”

Margaret Love, who served as U.S. pardon attorney from 1990 through 1997, said that the petition, as described to her by a reporter, touches on “really interesting” questions about the legitimacy of a pardon or commutation only uttered by a president. “I believe there’s no reason in principle that a president should have to write something down,” Love said.

But she said she believed Trump’s language, as she gleaned from the Browns’ affidavits, did not amount to a clear declaration that he was commuting Rosemond’s sentence. “While the president indicated an intention to do the grant, it does not sound to me like he actually did the grant,” Love said.

In his quest for presidential clemency, Rosemond, 56, appeared to fit Trump’s unusual requirements for freedom, which often appeared to hinge on a subject’s overlap with celebrity and personal influence.

In 2013, Loretta E. Lynch, then the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, called Rosemond a “thug in a suit” following his life sentence for drug trafficking. Rosemond was later convicted of ordering the murder of an associate of rapper 50 Cent, following a previous hung jury and overturned conviction in that case.

His advocates have maintained that Rosemond’s gangster reputation, including that he was alleged to have shipped cocaine slathered in mustard to thwart drug dogs, was a concoction. They say that he was the victim of headline-seeking prosecutors who utilized lying informants to wrongfully portray him as a kingpin despite a dearth of evidence.

“Jimmy Rosemond got significantly more time than ‘El Chapo,’” said Kimberly Kendall Corral, a lawyer hired by the Browns to advocate for Rosemond, referring to the Mexican drug lord who is serving life in prison plus 30 years. “Meanwhile, the feds wiretapped his phone for two years and never once did he talk about the drug trade.” (Representatives for the Eastern District of New York did not respond to a request for comment, and representatives for the Southern District of New York, where he was also prosecuted, declined.)

Since 2015, Rosemond’s team had petitioned through official channels for presidential clemency, supported by advocates as varied as former New Jersey governor James McGreevey (D), a former New York State Supreme Court judge and boxer Mike Tyson, according to Thursday’s filing.

But the effort got real traction only after rapper Kanye West’s much-publicized visit with Trump in October 2018. West was joined by Jim Brown and Brown’s attorney, Corral. She said that while the Oval Office scrum was focused on the rapper, she spoke to Trump and showed him materials about the case and ended up talking to a White House counsel that day.

Corral said that over the following two years, she and other Rosemond attorneys negotiated with a de facto White House clemency team led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law. At their instruction, she said, she reduced a 27-page request for a presidential pardon down to a single-page, easily digestible document. (Kushner did not respond to an interview request made through a spokesperson.)

Public records also show that in 2020, Rosemond’s associates hired Brett Tolman — a former federal prosecutor who has boasted of helping secure a pardon for Kushner’s father — to lobby for clemency for Rosemond. Rosemond’s supporters paid Tolman roughly $40,000, according to Lonnie Soury, their spokesman through the nonprofit Families of the Wrongfully Convicted.

Leeann Hellijas, a longtime friend of Rosemond who has led the effort to free him and was named on the lobbying records, said she considered it compensation for legal work “just like any other attorney.”

“I in no way think that we paid to get in there,” Hellijas said of their hiring of Tolman, who did not respond to an interview request.

“It took a long time to get Jared and the president to really meaningfully dig into this case,” Corral said, “but once they did it became clear that they were seeing what I was seeing.”

Then came the Dec. 18 phone call with the Browns, in which they said Trump told them he had “looked at everything” and “believe you guys” that the sentence should be commuted. “I want to do this,” Trump said, according to the affidavits.

“Based on my conversation with President Trump, I believe that Mr. Rosemond’s sentence was commuted on Dec. 18, 2020,” the Browns each wrote in their affidavits.

Corral said Rosemond’s legal team also considered it a done deal: “When a president says he’s granting clemency, that’s an act of clemency.”

Hellijas recalled that the prisoner’s closest supporters were “screaming, ecstatic when they heard the news.” She said that Tolman told them an official at the White House had said they should be ready for his release the next week, and travel receipts show Hellijas and members of Rosemond’s family arrived in the area of the West Virginia prison, USP Hazelton, on Dec. 22. She said that they stayed at a hotel down the street from the prison and waited but that no record of commutation was ever sent to the warden.

Hellijas said that the slow realization that Rosemond was not getting out was traumatizing for his adult children. “To be honest, it was worse than losing trial.”

Rosemond’s attorneys wrote in their brief that they have since attempted in vain to persuade the Biden administration to “carry out President Trump’s commutation.”

Corral said she did not know why Trump did not put Rosemond’s commutation on paper during his final months in office.

“There was sort of chaos — there was an insurrection, there was a number of things happening which certainly created distractions,” Corral said, adding that in her opinion, that didn’t legally matter. “There’s nothing that requires additional steps.”

Published:10/8/2021 1:22:21 PM
[1d1c5032-f768-5d89-a164-8e03a427a0c8] David Marcus: Biden must apologize to the border agents he smeared If shoot-from-the-shoulder President Biden won’t man up and give the agents the apology they deserve, maybe he could have a beer summit like Barack Obama did when he falsely accused a cop of racism. Published:10/8/2021 6:49:03 AM
[Markets] Luongo: Is Europe's Entire "Energy Crisis" Manufactured? Luongo: Is Europe's Entire "Energy Crisis" Manufactured?

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

The European Gas Crisis keeps hitting new high after new high as gas prices around the world go ballistic.  

While this isn’t just a European problem, if you read the MSM, that’s all they seem to care about.  

You know, it snows in Japan as well folks, and China.

Prices keep skyrocketing in Europe because there is no shortage of idiocy at the top of the European power structure. The confluence of the pressurizing of Nordstream 2 with the release of the “Pandora Papers” and the beginnings of German coalition talks just after the beginning of Q4 should have everyone’s Spidey-Sense shutting down like your adrenals do after a long period of self-inflicted stress.

And honestly, whose adrenals aren’t on the verge of collapse after eighteen months of ‘flatten the curve,’ ‘follow the science,’ and ‘just roll over to the Communism, already, you disgusting plebe!’ that we’ve been going through.

I guess that’s yet another thing we have to try and factor into our analysis of what collapse is the most imminent?

Because when you put this gas crisis in Europe into its proper context it should be clear where the battle lines are being drawn as the extreme pressure cooker of today’s geopolitical landscape forces everyone off the sidelines and into the fray.

  • On the one hand we have natural gas prices in Europe approaching coffin corner.

  • On the other we have Russia browning out gas deliveries to Europe.

  • China is experiencing major energy shortages and the entirety of the coal delivery network around the world is buckling.

These are facts. There are more I could list but let’s stay focused here.

The thing that makes no sense, seemingly, is that no one has an answer why these facts exist in the first place.

Because all anyone official ever wants to do is blame the sneaky Russians to avoid their own responsibility for this.

Finally, after a couple of weeks of this howling, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the issue from their side.

I suggest strongly you read his remarks carefully. Because in there you’ll find a couple of ‘facts’ which make this entire crisis in Europe seem like yet another staged ‘false flag’ for political gain. Ready?

The two middle points are the ones the no one want to report on but are the key to the understanding of this.

Europe is engaged in a game of idiotic brinksmanship with its people and the capital markets over gas supplies. They do this to construct a narrative and distort markets for political benefit.

When the reality is that this entire ‘crisis’ is a manufactured one because of their unwillingness to bow to the forces their policies have unleashed.

Gas prices in Europe are this way because of Europe’s own mistakes in trying to remake its economy (Putin Point #4).

Moreover, Putin also urged Gazprom, as a gesture of good faith despite his misgivings, to ship gas through Ukraine even though it would be better to turn on other capacity.

“Gazprom believes that it is economically more viable, it would even be more profitable to pay a fine to Ukraine, but to increase the volume of pumping through new systems precisely because of the circumstances that I mentioned – there is more pressure in the pipe, less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Everything is cheaper, around 3 billion a year. But I ask you not to do this,” the President said.

Does this sound like the mustache-twirling tyrant that’s portrayed in the odious British, US and German media?

Of course not. Now, I’m not accusing Putin of being an angel here or anything, he’s throwing scraps back to people who have put themselves in a position to starve and freeze to death, both literally and politically.

The goal here is to highlight just how moronic the EU’s stance on energy has become, to finally to break up the logjam.

He’s happy to see Gazprom (and possibly Rosneft if need be) sell all Europeans as much gas as it can supply and they demand, but only on terms that benefit everyone, supplier and demander. As I’ve talked about in previous blog posts, the EU thinks they have a monopsony on Russian gas and because of this can dictate terms to them.

This is patently untrue, and Gazprom shifting around supplies for a few days here and there proves that point dramatically. Like Jay Powell draining the world of eurodollars with just five basis points, Putin and Gazprom can expose the the extent of Eurocrat mendacity with just a few days of slowing gas exports.

That’s why this brinksmanship over gas supplies and electricity prices isn’t aimed at the Russians, who clearly have other customers for their gas, but with the people of Europe themselves and the capital markets all structured around one-sigma price volatility they are now extremely vulnerable even if things begin to return to normal.

The Russian Bogey Man is simply the cover story for what is a much deeper and, frankly, much more disturbing game.

So, while Zerohedge is correct about gas supply brown outs in Europe it’s only partly for reasons abundantly clear to even first-year geopolitical analysts:

Flows dropped as Gazprom has booked only about a third of the gas transit capacity it was offered for October via the Yamal-Europe pipeline and no extra transit capacity via Ukraine.

Gazprom declined to comment. It has repeatedly said it was supplying customers with gas in full compliance with existing contracts and said additional supplies could be provided once the newly built Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was launched.

Ball. Court. Germany.

Yes, Germany needs Nordstream 2. Hell Europe needs Nordstream 3 if these Davos ninnies are wrong about Climate Change, which they are.

Germany is the country caught in the middle of this titanic battle for the future of the world and Davos is the group creating this false flag to force a shift in sentiment negatively towards Russia.

That’s what’s driving this current crisis, one that, I think, is now threatening the future of the European Union itself. If those are the stakes, then eventually someone will finally do the right thing. Putin just offered the smallest of olive branches. Now let’s see if the European Commission has three collective brain cells to rub together and figure out how to save face (and their backsides).

Beating up and demeaning your neighbor is not a winning strategy, nor is it a path to lower prices and stable markets. At some point they, the Russians, realize that the situation is exactly what it looks like from the outside, war. And, in this case the Russians under Putin are finally treating the EU commissars as enemy combatants because that’s who they are.

That’s why his comments were structured to put the onus of the crisis back on Europe’s leadership rather than blaming the people keeping the lights on in the first place.

Whenever things like this happen Capitalism is always blamed. But, it’s always Commie vandals like the EU Commission who created the problem, either deliberately with dumb things like the Third Gas Directive or malinvestment of capital which leaves the world vulnerable to a hot summer in Asia.

And this is the essential point no one wants to confront. The EU picked this fight purely for political purposes because they have an agenda — energy instability for political benefit — but it has come back to bite them in the ass.

Because, as I said, the markets are so tight it takes only a small shift in sentiment to see the prices of things with inelastic demand, like energy, rise dramatically with a marginal shift in either supply, demand or, in this case, both.

Russia doesn’t act this ‘by the book’ at this moment in time without a plan. Treating the EU like the enemies they are is the strategic play. Whining about it in the media only accentuates their weakness and lack of leverage.

My friends at Mittdolcino.com are positively despondent because they see this power play for how it affects Italy, which is that it will carve the country up into pieces over divergent needs for inflation and deflation between it and Germany since one of these two countries need to exit the Euro-zone.

There’s no way this massive ‘drop’ in Russian supplies to the EU occurs without a longer-term strategic plan by the Russians.  Putin has made it clear he is fully fed up with EU shenanigans and this is the time for him to put the most pressure imaginable on Brussels to break the EU into tiny pieces.

How?  It’s again, all about Germany.  

When Nordstream 2 was announced and I was writing Gold Stock Advisor for Newsmax in 2013 I talked then about how the difference between how gold was accounted for between the ECB and the Fed.  That put Germany squarely in the middle between the U.S. on one side and Russia on the other.

Russia and China still hadn’t signed the big deal for the Power of Siberia pipeline at the time. They are now working on Power of Siberia 2, which will open up the massive mineral deposits in Mongolia.  So, even then, in my naïve way of seeing the world then as a first-year geopolitical analyst, I understood that Russia’s foreign policy had to be focused on getting Germany to side with them versus the U.S.

The political establishment in Germany was never going to let that happen because under Obama. Davos was running the operation to cleave Ukraine from Russia.  To date, both have been partially successful.  Both Ukraine and Germany are being torn apart from within as domestic leadership bows to internationals forces forcing them to pursue policies which go completely against their countries’ wishes and best interests.

So, now, fast forward to today.  The day after the German elections brings a mess but with a highly likely outcome that the SPD will ally with the Greens and the FDP. With Christian Lidner (FDP) as Finance Minister (at least temporarily) we have a German government at war with itself.

As Alex Mercouris brought up after I left the chat with Crypto Rich last week, the Greens are fracturing over the Russia issue.  Part of them want a restoration of good Russian relations, the other are neocon/Davos infiltrators trying to constantly move the goalposts on both Climate Change and geopolitics.

The SPD are pure Davos scum at this point so expect nothing good from them.  This is why I think Putin ‘shut off the taps’ the day after the election.  Like everyone else, he can see what Davos is doing and doesn’t like it.  So, in order for him to make his point he does exactly what he should, stop trading with those who have unofficially declared war on Russia and push the political scene in Germany to a breaking point.

Because here’s where this goes.  Germany needs to either control the purse strings of the EU or it needs to leave the euro-zone and be independent of the sinking ship.  Putin realizes that the best way to achieve this is to pour gasoline on a raging firestorm in the energy markets (oh, the humanity of the puns!) and remind German voters just who is truly responsible for their €2000/month electricity bills.

It’s not Putin.  It’s Berlin.  So, Berlin needs to sign off on Nordstream 2 and then ram it down the EU Commission’s throat.  And they better do it soon because Winter is Coming, after all.

And they just voted for more of this while Merkel, who has been the biggest obstacle to AfD’s inclusion in any government, is leaving the scene.  The CDU leadership got whacked across the board.  Most of the big names will not be in the Bundestag this time around, so the party will be doing a lot of self-reflection.

Inflation of the type Putin is ‘forcing’ on Europeans today is the type a country only recovers from with a political inversion.  This is why today we’re seeing surprise rate hikes from Poland, for example. It’s why Serbia is begging Russia to increase gas supplies there and Hungary signed a 15-year deal to secure its energy future.

While there is no appetite for a political inversion in Germany today after last week’s vote, there will be in about 3 months if coalition talks stall. Because the ECB under Christine Lagarde cannot raise rates but is powerless to stop them rising ultimately if the market senses that there is no political leadership capable of reining it in.

That ship sailed a few months ago after the Fed called Lagarde’s hawkish bluff and actively drained more than $1 trillion from overseas dollar markets and just increased the capacity to drain even more, without tapering QE.

Now let’s go back to the Fed and Wall St.  If there is a real backlash within some areas of the U.S. ‘big money’ against Davos which is showing up as Fed monetary policy, per my consistent analysis of the situation and events playing out to support it, then they are tacitly coordinating with Putin to give Germany what it wants, an excuse to leave the euro and conduct independent trade and energy policy.  

Think about it.  On the one hand the Fed is drying up dollars.  On the other Putin is spiking energy prices making it impossible for Germany to fight inflation within the EU.  On the third hand, China is cracking down on property speculation domestically, kicking out the foreign NGOs and reminding foreign investors that the rules in China are not the same as they are in the West.

You can and will lose all your money if you invest behind the Great Wall, as so many Evergrande bondholders just found out.

Now let’s square the entire circle. If Europe’s energy crisis is a constructed false flag event to spook capital, encourage speculators and effect political change, then can’t you make the same arguments for the concurrent fight on Capitol Hill regarding the Democrats, the debt ceiling and the spending bills?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been adamant that the Democrats do not need any help in passing a debt ceiling resolution. They can do it any time they want to. But, the Democrats won’t do this? Why? They are manufacturing a narrative that there is crisis on the horizon — default on U.S. bond payments.

This is the one outcome no investor wants to contemplate. So, the Democrats, like the Europeans, are arguing against themselves in order to blackmail the world into giving them their cookie or they will hold their breath until they collapse global markets.

Let me repeat. There is no debt ceiling crisis. There is no U.S. default crisis. There is only a bunch of Mafiosi on Capitol Hill doing what they’ve been told to do while purposefully scaring everyone into believing there is a crisis when none exists.

Do I have to invoke a classic Who song to make my point?

What’s the goal?

Chaos and the continued undermining of faith in politics, capital markets, energy production and seizing supply chains as we approach the winter in the Northern Hemisphere where susceptibility to pesky things like the flu, the latest iteration of COVID-9/11 and blatant political bullshit swells like a boil on the back of a government bureaucrat blocking a permit for some basic, but eminently important thing.

That Putin came out and told the world he’s ready to work with Europe to do his part alleviating the energy supply problems in Europe I’ve not heard one encouraging word from those that would benefit from this the most.

Their silence is deafening.

And that brings me back to Germany where, unless this gets resolved quickly, the most likely downstream outcome is Germany leaving the euro, reinstitute the Deutsche Mark, watch it fall vs. the dollar in the near term but outcompete the euro.  

With the euro in freefall after a disastrous Q3 close and German Bunds getting prepared for their next big sell-off, perhaps, maybe, for the first time in a long time, the markets are beginning to wake up from their central bank induced SOMA injections and get real with the possibilities that forces are now aligned to do the unthinkable, break up the EU.

But that only happens with a political inversion where the CDU/CSU ally with AfD and the FDP to form a real government after the current parties can’t form a coalition or any three-way coalition formed fails as inflation crushes the German middle class.

If the AfD were smart now they would be blaming all of this on Merkel’s moronic energy policy.  Now we’re seeing calls for delaying shutting down Germany’s nuclear reactors.  They can’t import enough coal to feed the plants.  BASF has shut down ammonia production, so food production is threatened.

There is no Agenda 2030 on the horizon if Germans freeze to death in their homes or get decimated by COVID-9/11 because they can’t afford to heat their homes.

This will crush France and Macron, overthrow Davos at the mid-terms here in the states and break the European Union in the process.

Germany is the lynchpin to the entire Davos edifice.  Without a compliant and beaten Germany there is no further Great Reset.  A Germany that breaks from the euro becomes a Germany that realigns with Russia and Eastern Europe. It’s a Germany no longer hell bent on internal European mercantilism and the establishment of the Fourth Reich through the EUSSR.  

The German people keep asking for that policy to end but aren’t given the options by their leadership to make that happen.  Then again, they keep giving their leadership just enough power to forestall their having to make a real decision. That decision is coming at them, fast.

As it is everyone across the West in various guises.

So, as Powell with five little basis points is under extreme pressure to go full MMT retard, so far has held his water and Putin with a few million BTUs of gas, these men are forcing open fault lines in the aristocracy that thinks it deserves to run the world and can bring down the whole rotten edifice.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 10/08/2021 - 03:30
Published:10/8/2021 2:58:30 AM
[In The News] Facebook Whistleblower Who Pushed For More Censorship Has Ties To Democrat Operatives

by Ailan Evans -

Frances Haugen is a fake whistleblower

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who pushed for more censorship of social media misinformation in Senate testimony Tuesday, is linked to several Democrat operatives. Frances Haugen is being advised on public relations and strategic communications by Bill Burton, a former Obama administration official and founder of Democrat-linked consulting firm Priorities USA …

Facebook Whistleblower Who Pushed For More Censorship Has Ties To Democrat Operatives is posted on Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:10/7/2021 1:39:15 AM
[Markets] France & The Fraying Of NATO France & The Fraying Of NATO

Authored by Gary Leupp via Counterpunch.org,

Biden has infuriated France by arranging the agreement to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. This replaces a contract to purchase a fleet of diesel-powered subs from France. Australia will have to pay penalties for breach of contract but the French capitalists will lose around 70 billion dollars. The perceived perfidy of both Canberra and Washington has caused Paris to compare Biden to Trump. The UK is third partner in the agreement so expect post-Brexit Franco-British relations to deteriorate further.

This is all good, in my opinion!

It’s also a good thing that Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was poorly orchestrated with the lingering “coalition partners” such as Britain, French and Germany, producing angry criticism. It’s great that the British prime minister proposed to France a “Coalition of the Willing” to continue the fight in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal—and better that it was dead in the water. (Maybe the French better than the Brits remember the Suez Crisis of 1956, the disastrous joint Anglo-French-Israeli effort to reimpose imperialist control over the canal. Not only did it lack U.S. participation; Eisenhower rationally shut it down after warnings from the Egyptians’ Soviet advisors.) It’s good that these three countries heeded the U.S. command to uphold their NATO promise to stand with the U.S. when attacked; that they lost over 600 troops in a fruitless effort; and that in the end the U.S. didn’t see fit to even involve them in the end plans. It’s good to wake up to the fact that the U.S. imperialists could care less about their input or their lives. but only demand their obedience and sacrifice.

It’s wonderful that Germany, despite obnoxious U.S. opposition, has maintained its involvement in the Nordstream II natural gas pipeline project along with Russia. The last three U.S. administrations have opposed the pipeline, claiming it weakens the NATO alliance and helps Russia (and urging purchase of more expensive U.S. energy sources instead—to enhance mutual security, don’t you see). The Cold War arguments have fallen on deaf ears. The pipeline was completed last month. Good for global free trade and for national sovereignty, and a significant European blow to U.S. hegemony.

It’s great that Trump in Aug. 2019 raised the ridiculous prospect of purchasing Greenland from Denmark, indifferent to the fact that Greenland is a self-governing entity, within the Kingdom of Denmark. (It is 90% Inuit, and led by political parties pressing for greater independence.) It’s marvelous that when the Danish prime minister gently, with good humor, refused his ignorant, insulting and racist proposal, he exploded in rage and cancelled his state visit including state dinner with the queen. He offended not only the Danish state but popular opinion throughout Europe with his boorishness and colonial arrogance. Excellent.

Trump personally, needlessly insulted the prime minister of Canada and the chancellor of Germany with the same childish language he’d used against political opponents. He raised questions in Europeans’ and Canadians’ minds about the value of an alliance with such vileness. That was a major historical contribution.

Good also that, in Libya in 2011, Hillary Clinton working with the French and British leaders secured UN approval for a NATO mission to protect civilians in Libya. And that, when the U.S.-led mission exceeded the UN resolution and waged full-out war to topple the Libyan leader, enraging China and Russia who called out the lie, some NATO nations declined to participate or turned back in disgust. Another U.S. imperialist war based on lies creating disorder and flooding Europe with refugees.

It was good only in the fact that it exposed once again the utter moral bankruptcy of the U.S.A. so widely now associated with images of Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo. All in the name of NATO.

*  *  *

Over the last two decades, with the Soviet Union and “communist threat” receding memories, the U.S. has systematically expanded this anti-Soviet, anti-communist postwar alliance called NATO to surround Russia. Any unprejudiced person looking at a map can understand Russia’s concern. Russia spends about a fifth of what the U.S. and NATO spend on military expenses. Russia is not a military threat to Europe or North America. So—the Russians have been asking since 1999, when Bill Clinton broke his predecessor’s promise to Gorbachev and resumed NATO expansion by adding Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia—why do you keep trying to expend to surround us?

Meanwhile more and more Europeans are doubting the leadership of the United States. That means doubting the purpose and value of NATO. Formed to confront an imaginary Soviet invasion of “western” Europe, it was never deployed in war during the Cold War. Its first war indeed was the Clintons’ war on Serbia in 1999. This conflict, which severed the Serbian historical heartland from Serbia to create the new (dysfunctional) state of Kosovo, has since been repudiated by participants Spain and Greece who note that the UN resolution authorizing a “humanitarian” mission in Serbia explicitly stated that the Serbian state remain undivided. Meantime (after the bogus “Rambouillet agreement” was signed) the French foreign minister complained that the U.S. was acting like a hyper-pouissance (“hyperpower” as opposed to mere superpower).

The future of NATO lies with the U.S., Germany, France and the UK. The last three were long members of the EU, which while a rival trading bloc generally coordinated policies with NATO. NATO has overlapped the EU such that virtually all of the countries admitted to the military alliance since 1989 have first joined NATO, then the EU. And within the EU—which is after all, a trading bloc that competes with North America—the UK long served as a kind of U.S. surrogate urging cooperation with Russian trade boycotts, etc. Now the U.K. has split from the EU, unavailable to, say, pressure Germany to avoid deals with the Russians Washington opposes. Good!

Germany has a number of reasons to want to increase trade with Russia and has now shown the will to stand up to the U.S. Germany and France both challenged George W. Bush’s Iraq war based on lies. We should not forget how Bush (promoted lately as a statesman by the Democrats!) rivaled his successor Trump as a vulgar, lying buffoon. And if Obama seemed a hero in contrast, his magnetism ebbed as Europeans learned that they were all being monitored by the National Security Agency, and that the calls of Angela Merkel and the Pope were bugged. This was the land of freedom and democracy, always boasting about liberating Europe from the Nazis and expecting eternal payoff in the form of bases and political deference.

It has been 76 years since the fall of Berlin (to the Soviets, as you know, not to the U.S.);

72 since the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO);

32 since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the promise by George W. H. Bush to Gorbachev NOT to expand NATO further;

22 since the resumption of NATO expansion;

22 since the U.S.-NATO war on Serbia including the aerial bombing of Belgrade;

20 since NATO went to war at U.S. behest in Afghanistan, resulting in ruin and failure;

13 years since the U.S. recognized Kosovo as an independent country, and NATO announced the near-term admission of Ukraine and Georgia, resulting in the brief Russo-Georgia War and Russian recognition of the states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia;

10 years since the grotesque NATO mission to destroy and sew chaos in Libya, producing more terror throughout the Sahel and tribal and ethnic violence in the crumbling country, and producing more waves of refugees;

7 since the bold, bloody U.S.-backed putsch in Ukraine that placed a pro-NATO party in power, provoking the ongoing rebellion among ethnic Russians in the east and obliging Moscow to re-annex the Crimean Peninsula, inviting unprecedented ongoing U.S. sanctions and U.S. pressure on allies to comply;

5 since a malignant narcissist moron won the U.S. presidency and soon alienated allies by his pronouncements, insults, evident ignorance, a belligerent approach, raising questions in a billion minds about the mental stability and judgment of the voters of this country;

1 year since a career warmonger who has long vowed to expand and strengthen NATO, who became the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine after the 2014 coup, his mission being to clean up corruption to prepare Ukraine for NATO membership (and who is the father of Hunter Biden who famously sat on the board of Ukraine’s leading gas company 2014-2017 making millions for no apparent reason or work done) became president.

1 year since the world saw repeatedly on TV the 9 minute video of an open, public police lynching on the streets of Minneapolis, surely many among the views wondering what right this racist nation has to lecture China or anyone on human rights.

9 months since the U.S. capitol was stormed by U.S. brown shirts brandishing Confederate flags and fascist symbols and calling for the hanging of Trump’s vice president for treason.

It is a long record of terrifying Europe with seemingly unstable leaders (Bush no less than Trump); harassing Europe with demands it minimizes trade with Russia and China and obey U.S. rules on Iran, and demanding participation in its imperialist wars far from the North Atlantic to Central Asia and Northern Africa.

It is also a record of provoking Russia while expanding the anti-Russian juggernaut. It has meant actually using NATO militarily (as in Serbia, Afghanistan, and Libya) to cement the military alliance under U.S. direction, the stationing of 4000 U.S. troops in Poland, and threatening flights in the Baltic. Meanwhile, multiple U.S. agencies work overtime to plot “color revolutions” in the counties bordering Russia: Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine.

NATO is dangerous and evil. It should be terminated. Opinion polls in Europe suggest a rise in NATO skepticism (good in itself) and opposition (better). It was already split seriously once: in 2002-2003 over the Iraq War. Indeed the manifest criminality of the Iraq War, the obvious willingness of the Americans to use disinformation, and the buffoonic personality of the U.S. president probably shocked Europe as much as the beastly Trump.

The amusing thing is that Biden and Blinken, Sullivan and Austin, all seem to think none of this happened. They really seem to think that the world respects the United States as the (natural?) leader of something called the Free World —of nations committed to “democracy.” Blinken tells us and Europeans we’re confronting, “autocracy” in the form of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela all threatening us and our values. They seem think they can return to the 1950s, explain their moves as reflections of “American Exceptionalism,” posture as champions of “human rights,” cloak their interventions as “humanitarian missions,” and arm-twist their client-states into joint action. At present NATO is being pushed by Biden to identify (as it did in its last communique) the PRC as a “security threat” to Europe.

But the reference to China was controversial. And NATO is divided on the matter of China. Some states do not see much of a threat and have every reason to expand ties with China, especially with the advent of the Belt and Road projects. They know that China’s GDP will soon exceed that of the U.S. and that the U.S. is not the economic superpower it was after the war when it established its hegemony over most of Europe. It has lost much of its basic strength but, like the Spanish Empire in the eighteenth century, none of its arrogance and brutality.

Even after all the exposure. Even after all the shame. Biden flashing his trained smile announces “America is back!” expecting the world—especially “our allies”—to delight in the resumption of normalcy. But Biden should recall the stony silence that met Pence’s announcement at the Munich Security Conference in February 2019 when he conveyed Trump’s greetings. Do not these U.S. leaders not realize that in this century Europe’s GDP has come to match the U.S.’s? And that few people believe that the U.S. “saved” Europe from the Nazis, and then staved off the Soviet Communists, and revived Europe with the Marshall Plan, and continues to this day to protect Europe from the Russia that threatens to march west at any moment?

Blinken wants to pick up and move on and lead the world forward. Back to normal! Sound, reliable U.S.leadership is back!

Oh really? the French might ask. Stabbing a NATO ally in the back, sabotaging a signed $66 billion deal with far-off Australia? “Doing,” as the French foreign minister put it, “something Mr. Trump would do”? Not only France but the EU has denounced the U.S.-Australia deal. Some NATO members question how the Atlantic Alliance is served by a business dispute between members that pertains to what the Pentagon calls the “Indo-Pacific” region. And why—when the U.S. is attempting to secure NATO’s participation in a strategy of containing and provoking Beijing—it is not bothering to coordinate with France?

Is Blinken unaware that France is an imperialist country with vast holdings in the Pacific? Does he know about the French naval facilities at Papeete, Tahiti, or the army, navy and air force bases in New Caledonia? The French conducted their nuclear blasts at Mururora, for god’s sake. As an imperialist country, does not France have the same right as the U.S. to gang up on China with Australia, in France’s corner of the Pacific? And if its close ally the U.S. decides to undermine the deal, should not etiquette have dictated that it at least inform its “oldest ally” about its intentions?

The French condemnation of the submarines deal has been unprecedentedly sharp, in part, I imagine, due to the implicit disparagement of France as a great power. If the U.S. is urging its allies to join with it in confronting China, why does it not consult with France about an arms deal designed to do that, especially when it supplants one already openly negotiated by a NATO ally? Isn’t it clear that Biden’s appeals for “alliance unity” mean uniting, behind U.S. leadership around preparations for war on China?

Gradually NATO is fraying. Again, this is a very good thing. I had worried that Biden would quickly work to integrate Ukraine into the alliance, but Merkel seems to have told him no. Europeans don’t want to be dragged into another U.S. war, especially against their great neighbor whom they know much better than Americans and have every reason to befriend.

France and Germany, who (recall) opposed the U.S. war-based-on-lies on Iraq in 2003, are finally losing patience with the alliance and wondering what membership means other than joining with the U.S. in its quarrels with Russia and China.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/07/2021 - 02:00
Published:10/7/2021 1:09:21 AM
[Markets] Biden Tells Japan's New PM That US Will Defend Senkaku Islands From China Biden Tells Japan's New PM That US Will Defend Senkaku Islands From China

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com, 

President Biden told Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a phone call on Monday that the US would defend the Senkaku Islands in the event of a Chinese attack.

The Senkakus, known as the Diayous in China, are a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. They are currently controlled by Japan and are also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Via Tokyo Review

In a statement on the call, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said that Biden had "reaffirmed the US’s unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan including the application of Article V of the Japan-US Security Treaty to the Senkaku Islands."

Article V is the section of the US-Japan Security Treaty that outlines the mutual defense agreement between the two countries. Kishida told reporters on Tuesday that President Biden had given "strong remarks on the US commitment to defend Japan, including Article V."

The Senkaku Islands have turned into a potential flashpoint for a conflict between the US and China since the Obama administration when the US first affirmed it would come to Japan’s defense if the islands were attacked.

The Biden administration first made the pledge that it would defend the Senkakus to Japan back in January when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin first spoke with his Japanese counterpart.

Kishida said that he and Biden agreed to work together on "challenges facing neighboring regions such as China and North Korea." The Japanese leader said he wants to strengthen military ties with the US as well as other "democracies" in Asia and Europe.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 21:30
Published:10/6/2021 8:44:00 PM
[Markets] China Manipulating Google, Bing Search Results To Advance Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories China Manipulating Google, Bing Search Results To Advance Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories

China has been taking advantage of a 'data void' in order to flood social media platforms with Chinese-backed conspiracy theories regarding the origins of Covid-19, which in turn affects algorithmic results from popular search engines such as Google and Bing, according to the Washington Post, citing a Tuesday report by the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD).

The Chinese posts have almost exclusively focused on a theory that Covid-19 was created in a lab at Fort Detrick, home to the US Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) - which will ring a bell for anyone who read The Hot Zone, and was then purposefully spread throughout Wuhan, China during the October 2019 Military World Games.

Illustration via China's state-run Global Times

By saturating social media platforms with this theory, it now crops up when people search for other things via popular search engines.

What’s particularly noteworthy about the campaign, researchers said, is that the officials have tapped into a highly effective means for spreading misinformation and disinformation: filling the Internet with misleading content on issues where there’s a dearth of reliable information. The result is that when users search for these more obscure topics — when they type “Fort Detrick” into Google or Bing — they are more likely to see Chinese-backed conspiracy theories.

...

According to the report, news search results for Fort Detrick across Google, YouTube and Bing were “dominated” by state-run Chinese media such as CGTN and the Global Times at various times since May. Researchers called the outlets “central to Beijing’s information operations.” -WaPo

"It gives an advantage to those who are trying to promote this conspiracy because they continue to publish on it over and over and over and over, so that when someone who's not familiar with the term just Googles it … you tend to get the conspiracy theorist’s point of view," said Bret Schafer, a media and digital disinformation fellow at ASD who co-authored the report.

China's disinformation campaign conceals their own involvement

We know from government contracts, FOIA records, and leaked emails that the US government was conducting risky gain-of-function research on US soil until former President Obama banned it in 2014 over ethical questions raised by the scientific community. The 'research' included manipulating bat Covid to be more transmissible to humans. Instead, the research was shifted overseas to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and laundered through New York nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance - whose CEO Peter Daszak secured lucrative contracts to study and manipulate bat coronaviruses in Wuhan China four months before Obama's ban.

The first $666,442 installment of EcoHealth's $3.7 million NIH grant was paid in June 2014, with similar annual payments through May 2019 under the "Understanding The Risk Of Bat Coronavirus Emergence" project.

Then, in 2017, a subagency of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci - resumed funding a controversial grant to genetically modify bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China without the approval of a government oversight body.

Notably, the WIV "had openly participated in gain-of-function research in partnership with U.S. universities and institutions" for years under the leadership of Dr. Shi 'Batwoman' Zhengli, according to the Washington Post's Josh Rogin.

In 2017 the "Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight (P3CO) Framework was formed within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)," which was tasked with evaluating the risks involved with enhancing dangerous pathogens, as well as whether proper safeguards are in place, before a grant into 'gain-of-function' or similarly risky research can be issued. Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) - the subagency which funded EcoHealth - didn't think the grant needed review, and resumed their relationship with Daszak without flagging it for the P3CO committee, an NIH spokesperson told the Daily Caller.

We also know (thanks to a FOIA lawsuit by The Intercept) that Daszak wanted to release 'Chimeric Covid Spike Proteins' Into Bat Populations Using 'Skin-Penetrating Nanoparticles,' only to be denied by DARPA on the grounds that it was too risky.

The bid was submitted by Daszak, who was hoping to use genetic engineering to cobble "human-specific cleavage sites" onto bat Covid 'which would make it easier for the virus to enter human cells' - a method which would coincidentally answer a longstanding question among the scientific community as to how SARS-CoV-2 evolved to become so infectious to humans.

Daszak's proposal also included plans to commingle high-risk natural coronaviruses strains with more infectious, yet less deadly versions. His 'bat team' of researchers included Dr. Shi Zhengli from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as US researchers from the University of North Carolina and the US Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center.

"This is a roadmap to the high-risk research that could have led to the current pandemic," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right To Know, a group that has been investigating the origins of Covid-19 (via The Intercept).

And so - China's Fort Detrick propaganda completely ignores the international collaboration between the US NIH and Wuhan scientists.

Further reading:

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 20:30
Published:10/6/2021 7:39:26 PM
[Markets] Biden, Bargaining, & Betrayal: It's Not The Top-Line Number... It's The Bottom-Line Goal Biden, Bargaining, & Betrayal: It's Not The Top-Line Number... It's The Bottom-Line Goal

Authored by Charles Lipson via RealClearPolitics.com,

The news from Washington is all about back-room negotiations, divisions among Democrats, and their failure to reach a spending deal, so far. It’s an easy story to tell, but the focus on dollars and deals obscures a larger question: What’s really at stake in these negotiations?

First, let’s consider the bargaining and betrayals. Those begin with bipartisan agreement to pass a “roads and highways” bill, which will cost over $1 trillion. To pass it, President Biden explicitly promised Senate Republicans and moderate Democrats that the bill would be considered separately from a larger, more controversial measure to establish new social-welfare programs.

Within hours, Biden tried to renege on his promise. Furious resistance from senators forced him to return to his original position, but the episode left everyone wondering who was in control and whether Biden could be trusted. Even so, the bill did pass the upper chamber with a strong bipartisan majority: 19 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined the 50 Democrats.

Supporters expected the bill to be approved by the House where Democrats hold a slim majority and some Republicans might vote with them on infrastructure, as they had in the Senate. But no. Speaker Nancy Pelosi held up the bill and refused to allow a vote until the House had first passed the social-welfare legislation. Moderate Democrats pushed back and, to appease them, she finally agreed to sever the two bills and allow a vote on roads and bridges first. That vote, which she promised would take place on Sept. 27, never happened. The roadblock was the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Pramila Jayapal from Seattle. Faced with their refusal, Pelosi reneged on her public pledge to moderates.

That’s the impasse, as it currently stands. Joe Biden went to Capitol Hill, hoping to convince House Democrats to do something — anything. He failed. The progressives stayed together, holding the infrastructure bill hostage to their larger goal of more social spending.

The progressives’ problem is that, even if they get the welfare bill through the House, they don’t have the votes to pass it in the Senate. A smaller one, maybe, but not the whole wish list. Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have said they won’t vote for the whole $3.5 trillion package. Those two may have quiet support from a few other moderate Democrats, who are letting Manchin and Sinema take the heat.

Progressives say they have already conceded too much.

They wanted to spend more than $6 trillion on the social bill and “compromised” with the White House for $3.5 trillion. They won’t go any lower, they insist, but nobody really knows if that’s true. Manchin, whose deep red-state gave Biden just 29.7% of the vote, has said he won’t go over $1.5 trillion. This summer, he secretly gave that number in writing to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who never shared it with Pelosi. Now that the number is public, progressives have bitterly rejected it as “far too low” and begun insulting Manchin and Sinema.

There is obviously a deal to be made on “roads and highways,” but any agreement on social-welfare spending will have to be close to Manchin’s number. What’s not clear is whether progressives will continue to hold both bills hostage until they get what they want. That’s the heart of the back-room negotiations, which have revealed deep cleavages among Democrats.

These negotiations, and journalists’ focus on top-line costs, are obviously crucial, but they are only part of the story. The other part is what progressives — and the Biden administration — hope to accomplish and what it would mean for the country. Their goal is not simply to spend a lot of money in this one bill. Their goal is not to pay for it, even though they are perfectly happy to “tax the rich.” These bills are so large that taxes will inevitably fall on the middle class. They seem utterly indifferent to the prospect of higher inflation, fueled by more spending and already at its highest levels in three decades. All those costs are bearable if they advance the progressives’ central goal: to install a whole series of cradle-to-grave social programs, including preschool child care, paid family leave, free college, and so on.

Those programs are extremely difficult to rescind once they’ve begun, so the goal is to get them started. Progressives know — and the whole country should understand — that piling on these vast new programs would be a major step in turning the United States into a European-style social democracy, along the lines of France, Germany, Spain, or Italy.

That transformation began under Franklin Roosevelt and vastly expanded under Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. The next important step was Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. If successful, Biden’s effort to add big, new social programs would make him a transformational president, even if he served only one term and accomplished nothing more.

Voters never elected Biden to do that. Nor did they give him and his party anything like the overwhelming majorities FDR and LBJ won when they launched this trajectory. Quite the contrary. Biden won narrowly, and Democrats barely carried Congress. They have a four-vote majority in the House and a 50-50 Senate. Biden himself promised to govern from the center-left, reach across the aisle, and restore normalcy after the tumult of the Trump years.

He has done none of that, ignoring his own promises and his party’s failure to win a mandate for tectonic changes. His plummeting poll numbers show voters realize they have been fooled twice over. First, they thought, wrongly, that Joe Biden was competent. He had decades of Washington experience in the Senate, after all, and served eight years as vice president. That mirage of competence vanished with the humiliating debacle in Afghanistan and the uncontrolled, illegal immigration on the southern border. Second, they believed his promise of moderation. Voters’ reaction to these unhappy realizations can be summarized in two words: buyer’s remorse.

If Biden had been the moderate he advertised himself to be, he would have twisted arms to pass the bill on roads and bridges, separated it from the bill for more social programs, and taken the limited victory. He could have honestly said he delivered on his promise to “build back better.” That’s not what he’s done. What he has done is pursue an ambitious, social-democrat agenda, one his own party rejected when primary voters chose Biden over Bernie Sanders.

Surely Biden knows he will never get his entire program through the Senate. But he’ll pass as much of it as he can. Doing so combines three central elements of the Democratic long-term agenda, pursued steadily since the mid-1930s:

(1) overturn federalism and replace it with a centralized state;

(2) use this administrative state to impose detailed regulations on the economy and society; and

(3) redistribute federal funds to favored groups (and tax disfavored ones) to retain political control.

Implementing those goals has slowly transformed America, at least since the mid-1960s.

Biden wants to take the next, large leap before his party loses power. Whether he, Nancy Pelosi, and the progressive caucus can actually make that leap — and land safely — is the real prize in this back-room bargaining. The fight is ultimately over how much they can centralize, regulate, and redistribute.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 17:30
Published:10/6/2021 4:41:52 PM
[2021 News] Biden’s ratings are in the shitter

Biden’s ratings are in the shitter. Well, we agree with Obama, who said, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up.” He sure got that right. Biden received negative scores in the double digits on all but one key issue when Americans were asked about his handling of … the response to the coronavirus: 48 percent approve, while 50 percent disapprove; the […]

The post Biden’s ratings are in the shitter appeared first on IHTM.

Published:10/6/2021 3:06:42 PM
[] Sage Steele Suspended from ESPN for 'Controversial' Comments about Mandates, Obama, Female Reporters Published:10/6/2021 1:47:44 PM
[Markets] Conflict Of Interest? AG Garland's Family Getting Rich Selling Critical Race Theory Materials To Schools Conflict Of Interest? AG Garland's Family Getting Rich Selling Critical Race Theory Materials To Schools

When it comes to conflicts of interest, Attorney General Merrick Garland appears to have a huge one.

Merrick's daughter, Rebecca Garland, is married to the co-founder of an education resource company that pushes critical race theory - which angry parents across the country are protesting. Taking matters into his own hands, AG Garland tapped the FBI on Monday to huddle with local leaders to address a "disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence" against teachers and school board members.

As the Conservative Treehouse writes:

Well, well, well… This is interesting.  U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently instructed the FBI to begin investigating parents who confront school board administrators over Critical Race Theory indoctrination material. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a memorandum to the FBI instructing them to initiate investigations of any parent attending a local school board meeting who might be viewed as confrontational, intimidating or harassing.

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s daughter is Rebecca Garland.  In 2018 Rebecca Garland married Xan Tanner [LINK].  Mr. Xan Tanner is the current co-founder of a controversial education service company called Panorama Education. [LINK and LINK]  Panorama Education is the “social learning” resource material provider to school districts and teachers that teach Critical Race Theory.

Conflict of interest much?

Yes, the Attorney General is instructing the FBI to investigate parents who might pose a financial threat to the business of his daughter’s husband.

Screen-grabs and citations below:

(New York Times LINK)
(Panorama Education Services Link)

[ZH: More on Panorama]

In June, several meeting attendees and newly elected board members at the Moore County School District in North Carolina pushed back against continuing their contract with Panorama - with one calling it an "indoctrination platform" which aims to mold students into "social justice warriors."

Those claims are based more on the company’s webinars and virtual workshops for teachers than the surveys Moore County Schools plans to conduct over the three-year term of the contract. The district would pay $184,300 for Panorama’s services over that time period.

Before starting in on their business agenda Monday night, the board heard from about 10 speakers who opposed the contract extension. At the core of the debate is resistance to the idea that public schools might teach Critical Race Theory: in short, the hypothesis that racism has persisted in American institutions throughout history to the detriment of minorities and still does.

Board members Robert Levy and David Hensley pointed to one of the company’s leaders having done economic development work in Cuba, and online webinars dealing with things like “equity, care, and connection” and “dismantling white supremacy” to suggest that Panorama is a vehicle for what Levy termed “really hardcore Critical Race Theory.” -The Pilot

In May, the Johnston County Report - a local North Carolina outlet - did a deep dive on Panorama in an article entitled "Activists In Our Schools: Big Data" in which they described Panorama as a "Big Data company that collects and performs analytics. Data Analytics takes in raw data and formulates it to make process decisions."

I came across a Twitter post from Johnston County Public School (JCPS) Student Service Counseling Office – Social Emotional Learning (SEL). It was a graphic with a bunch of buzzwords like Restorative Justice, Adult SEL, Staff Equity Committees, and Panorama. All of the terms were familiar to me, but not Panorama. I had no idea what it meant or just how deep the well would go with that one word.

...

From a 2013 interview in Inc. “Feuer says it was the promise of Panorama’s social impact, not its financial return, that first caught Zuckerberg’s eye.” Zuckerberg’s foundation called Startup:Education infused $4 million dollars into Panorama in 2013. Panorama has found multiple social change and educational technology equity partners including; Spark Capital a San Francisco Bay area company- capital funders behind Twitter and Tumblr, Emerson Collective a Palo Alto company self described as a social change organization, and Owl Ventures, the world’s largest holder of education technology with $1.2 billion in assets- based out of Silicon Valley founded in 2014. By 2017 Panorama Education had raised $32 million in venture capital to data mine children and implement social transformation into schools.

The rolling out of Panorama as an educational tool that measured feelings, observable behaviors, and thought perception was timed perfectly with the implementation of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which replaced No Child Left Behind. The Obama era Act gave a new opening to measure emotions as an academic category. Under ESSA federal public school funding was more able to be funneled directly to school counseling programs. The schools had money and Panorama was ready to provide service.

Panorama charges between $500 to $3,000 per school for their basic data tools and Playbook. Just the annual survey screener for the Chapel Hill- Carrboro City Schools was $29,000 for a one year contract. Through a records request it was disclosed in 2020-2021 JCPS paid $214,000 for a one year contract with Panorama Education. 

Meanwhile, Panorama officially took a 'stand against systemic racism' in the wake of the George Floyd murder - in which they say "Decisively: Black people matter. Black students matter. Black educators matter. Black teammates matter. Black lives matter."

"We attack racism, discrimination, and oppression, and work towards justice, equality, and opportunity," the statement continues.

And for any parent who has a problem with this, daddy Garland just activated the FBI.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 09:59
Published:10/6/2021 9:03:52 AM
[Markets] Greenwald: Democrats, Media Do Not Want To Weaken Facebook, Just Commandeer Its Power To Censor Greenwald: Democrats, Media Do Not Want To Weaken Facebook, Just Commandeer Its Power To Censor

Authored by Glenn Greenwald via Substack,

"Whistleblower" Frances Haugen is a vital media and political asset because she advances their quest for greater control over online political discourse...

Much is revealed by who is bestowed hero status by the corporate media. This week's anointed avatar of stunning courage is Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager being widely hailed as a "whistleblower” for providing internal corporate documents to the Wall Street Journal relating to the various harms which Facebook and its other platforms (Instagram and WhatsApp) are allegedly causing.

The social media giant hurts America and the world, this narrative maintains, by permitting misinformation to spread (presumably more so than cable outlets and mainstream newspapers do virtually every week); fostering body image neurosis in young girls through Instagram (presumably more so than fashion magazines, Hollywood and the music industry do with their glorification of young and perfectly-sculpted bodies); promoting polarizing political content in order to keep the citizenry enraged, balkanized and resentful and therefore more eager to stay engaged (presumably in contrast to corporate media outlets, which would never do such a thing); and, worst of all, by failing to sufficiently censor political content that contradicts liberal orthodoxies and diverges from decreed liberal Truth. On Tuesday, Haugen's star turn took her to Washington, where she spent the day testifying before the Senate about Facebook's dangerous refusal to censor even more content and ban even more users than they already do.

There is no doubt, at least to me, that Facebook and Google are both grave menaces. Through consolidation, mergers and purchases of any potential competitors, their power far exceeds what is compatible with a healthy democracy. A bipartisan consensus has emerged on the House Antitrust Committee that these two corporate giants — along with Amazon and Apple — are all classic monopolies in violation of long-standing but rarely enforced antitrust laws. Their control over multiple huge platforms that they purchased enables them to punish and even destroy competitors, as we saw when Apple, Google and Amazon united to remove Parler from the internet forty-eight hours after leading Democrats demanded that action, right as Parler became the most-downloaded app in the country, or as Google suppresses Rumble videos in its dominant search feature as punishment for competing with Google's YouTube platform. Facebook and Twitter both suppressed reporting on the authentic documents about Joe Biden's business activities reported by The New York Post just weeks before the 2020 election. These social media giants also united to effectively remove the sitting elected President of the United States from the internet, prompting grave warnings from leaders across the democratic world about how anti-democratic their consolidated censorship power has become.

But none of the swooning over this new Facebook heroine nor any of the other media assaults on Facebook have anything remotely to do with a concern over those genuine dangers. Congress has taken no steps to curb the influence of these Silicon Valley giants because Facebook and Google drown the establishment wings of both parties with enormous amounts of cash and pay well-connected lobbyists who are friends and former colleagues of key lawmakers to use their D.C. influence to block reform. With the exception of a few stalwarts, neither party's ruling wing really has any objection to this monopolistic power as long as it is exercised to advance their own interests.

And that is Facebook's only real political problem: not that they are too powerful but that they are not using that power to censor enough content from the internet that offends the sensibilities and beliefs of Democratic Party leaders and their liberal followers, who now control the White House, the entire executive branch and both houses of Congress. Haugen herself, now guided by long-time Obama operative Bill Burton, has made explicitly clear that her grievance with her former employer is its refusal to censor more of what she regards as “hate, violence and misinformation.” In a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night, Haugen summarized her complaint about CEO Mark Zuckerberg this way: he “has allowed choices to be made where the side effects of those choices are that hateful and polarizing content gets more distribution and more reach." Haugen, gushed The New York Times’ censorship-desperate tech unit as she testified on Tuesday, is “calling for regulation of the technology and business model that amplifies hate and she’s not shy about comparing Facebook to tobacco.”

Agitating for more online censorship has been a leading priority for the Democratic Party ever since they blamed social media platforms (along with WikiLeaks, Russia, Jill Stein, James Comey, The New York Times, and Bernie Bros) for the 2016 defeat of the rightful heir to the White House throne, Hillary Clinton. And this craving for censorship has been elevated into an even more urgent priority for their corporate media allies, due to the same belief that Facebook helped elect Trump but also because free speech on social media prevents them from maintaining a stranglehold on the flow of information by allowing ordinary, uncredentialed serfs to challenge, question and dispute their decrees or build a large audience that they cannot control. Destroying alternatives to their failing platforms is thus a means of self-preservation: realizing that they cannot convince audiences to trust their work or pay attention to it, they seek instead to create captive audiences by destroying or at least controlling any competitors to their pieties.

As I have been reporting for more than a year, Democrats do not make any secret of their intent to co-opt Silicon Valley power to police political discourse and silence their enemies. Congressional Democrats have summoned the CEO's of Google, Facebook and Twitter four times in the last year to demand they censor more political speech. At the last Congressional inquisition in March, one Democrat after the next explicitly threatened the companies with legal and regulatory reprisals if they did not immediately start censoring more.

Pew survey from August shows that Democrats now overwhelmingly support internet censorship not only by tech giants but also by the government which their party now controls. In the name of "restricting misinformation,” more than 3/4 of Democrats want tech companies "to restrict false info online, even if it limits freedom of information,” and just under 2/3 of Democrats want the U.S. Government to control that flow of information over the internet:

The prevailing pro-censorship mindset of the Democratic Party is reflected not only by that definitive polling data but also by the increasingly brash and explicit statements of their leaders. At the end of 2020, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), newly elected after young leftist activists worked tirelessly on his behalf to fend off a primary challenge from the more centrist Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), told Facebook's Zuckerberg exactly what the Democratic Party wanted. In sum, they demand more censorship:

This, and this alone, is the sole reason why there is so much adoration being constructed around the cult of this new disgruntled Facebook employee. What she provides, above all else, is a telegenic and seemingly informed “insider” face to tell Americans that Facebook is destroying their country and their world by allowing too much content to go uncensored, by permitting too many conversations among ordinary people that are, in the immortal worlds of the NYT's tech reporter Taylor Lorenz, “unfettered.”

When Facebook, Google, Twitter and other Silicon Valley social media companies were created, they did not set out to become the nation's discourse police. Indeed, they affirmatively wanted not to do that. Their desire to avoid that role was due in part to the prevailing libertarian ideology of a free internet in that sub-culture. But it was also due to self-interest: the last thing social media companies wanted to be doing is looking for ways to remove and block people from using their product and, worse, inserting themselves into the middle of inflammatory political controversies. Corporations seek to avoid angering potential customers and users over political stances, not courting that anger.

This censorship role was not one they so much sought as one that was foisted on them. It was not really until the 2016 election, when Democrats were obsessed with blaming social media giants (and pretty much everyone else except themselves) for their humiliating defeat, that pressure began escalating on these executives to start deleting content liberals deemed dangerous or false and banning their adversaries from using the platforms at all. As it always does, the censorship began by targeting widely disliked figures — Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones and others deemed “dangerous” — so that few complained (and those who did could be vilified as sympathizers of the early offenders). Once entrenched, the censorship net then predictably and rapidly spread inward (as it invariably does) to encompass all sorts of anti-establishment dissidents on the right, the left, and everything in between. And no matter how much it widens, the complaints that it is not enough intensify. For those with the mentality of a censor, there can never be enough repression of dissent. And this plot to escalate censorship pressures found the perfect vessel in this stunningly brave and noble Facebook heretic who emerged this week from the shadows into the glaring spotlight. She became a cudgel that Washington politicians and their media allies could use to beat Facebook into submission to their censorship demands.

In this dynamic we find what the tech and culture writer Curtis Yarvin calls "power leak.” This is a crucial concept for understanding how power is exercised in American oligarchy, and Yarvin's brilliant essay illuminates this reality as well as it can be described. Hyperbolically arguing that "Mark Zuckerberg has no power at all,” Yarvin points out that it may appear that the billionaire Facebook CEO is powerful because he can decide what will and will not be heard on the largest information distribution platform in the world. But in reality, Zuckerberg is no more powerful than the low-paid content moderators whom Facebook employs to hit the "delete” or "ban” button, since it is neither the Facebook moderators nor Zuckerberg himself who is truly making these decisions. They are just censoring as they are told, in obedience to rules handed down from on high. It is the corporate press and powerful Washington elites who are coercing Facebook and Google to censor in accordance with their wishes and ideology upon pain of punishment in the form of shame, stigma and even official legal and regulatory retaliation. Yarvin puts it this way:

However, if Zuck is subject to some kind of oligarchic power, he is in exactly the same position as his own moderators. He exercises power, but it is not his power, because it is not his will. The power does not flow from him; it flows through him. This is why we can say honestly and seriously that he has no power. It is not his, but someone else’s. . . .

Zuck doesn’t want to do any of this. Nor do his users particularly want it. Rather, he is doing it because he is under pressure from the press. Duh. He cannot even admit that he is under duress—or his Vietcong guards might just snap, and shoot him like the Western running-dog capitalist he is….

And what grants the press this terrifying power? The pure and beautiful power of the logos? What distinguishes a well-written poast, like this one, from an equally well-written Times op-ed? Nothing at all but prestige. In normal times, every sane CEO will comply unhesitatingly with the slightest whim of the legitimate press, just as they will comply unhesitatingly with a court order. That’s just how it is. To not call this power government is—just playing with words.

As I have written before, this problem — whereby the government coerces private actors to censor for them — is not one that Yarvin was the first to recognize. The U.S. Supreme Court has held, since at least 1963, that the First Amendment's "free speech” clause is violated when state officials issue enough threats and other forms of pressure that essentially leave the private actor with no real choice but to censor in accordance with the demands of state officials. Whether we are legally at the point where that constitutional line has been crossed by the increasingly blunt bullying tactics of Democratic lawmakers and executive branch officials is a question likely to be resolved in the courts. But whatever else is true, this pressure is very real and stark and reveals that the real goal of Democrats is not to weaken Facebook but to capture its vast power for their own nefarious ends.

There is another issue raised by this week's events that requires ample caution as well. The canonized Facebook whistleblower and her journalist supporters are claiming that what Facebook fears most is repeal or reform of Section 230, the legislative provision that provides immunity to social media companies for defamatory or other harmful material published by their users. That section means that if a Facebook user or YouTube host publishes legally actionable content, the social media companies themselves cannot be held liable. There may be ways to reform Section 230 that can reduce the incentive to impose censorship, such as denying that valuable protection to any platform that censors, instead making it available only to those who truly allow an unmoderated platform to thrive. But such a proposal has little support in Washington. What is far more likely is that Section 230 will be "modified” to impose greater content moderation obligations on all social media companies.

Far from threatening Facebook and Google, such a legal change could be the greatest gift one can give them, which is why their executives are often seen calling on Congress to regulate the social media industry. Any legal scheme that requires every post and comment to be moderated would demand enormous resources — gigantic teams of paid experts and consultants to assess "misinformation” and "hate speech” and veritable armies of employees to carry out their decrees. Only the established giants such as Facebook and Google would be able to comply with such a regimen, while other competitors — including large but still-smaller ones such as Twitter — would drown in those requirements. And still-smaller challengers to the hegemony of Facebook and Google, such as Substack and Rumble, could never survive. In other words, any attempt by Congress to impose greater content moderation obligations — which is exactly what they are threatening — would destroy whatever possibility remains for competitors to arise and would, in particular, destroy any platforms seeking to protect free discourse. That would be the consequence by design, which is why one should be very wary of any attempt to pretend that Facebook and Google fear such legislative adjustments.

There are real dangers posed by allowing companies such as Facebook and Google to amass the power they have now consolidated. But very little of the activism and anger from the media and Washington toward these companies is designed to fracture or limit that power. It is designed, instead, to transfer that power to other authorities who can then wield it for their own interests. The only thing more alarming than Facebook and Google controlling and policing our political discourse is allowing elites from one of the political parties in Washington and their corporate media outlets to assume the role of overseer, as they are absolutely committed to doing. Far from being some noble whistleblower, Frances Haugen is just their latest tool to exploit for their scheme to use the power of social media giants to control political discourse in accordance with their own views and interests.

Correction, Oct. 5, 2021, 5:59 pm ET: This article was edited to reflect that just under 2/3 of Democrats favor U.S. Government censorship of the internet in the name of fighting misinformation, not just over.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/05/2021 - 19:25
Published:10/5/2021 6:34:45 PM
[Markets] To Save America, Durham Must Reveal The Whole Russiagate Story And Punish The Guilty To Save America, Durham Must Reveal The Whole Russiagate Story And Punish The Guilty

Authored by Roger Simon, op-ed via The Epoch Times,

A bit more information has emerged from the John Durham investigation into Russiagate (or “Spygate,”as it is known hereabouts).

This is due to what is likely a leak from one or more of the targets to their loyal propagandists at CNN. (In the article, the reporters do their best to downgrade the scandal they fanned for years as no more than a trivial “dirty trick” that all campaigns do. There’s a well-known word for that adapted into the English language.)

The import of these leaks is usually to soften the impact on the target(s), but it also gives us another indication Durham is still active.

In this instance, more subpoenas have been issued, including some to Perkins Coie. That’s the Democratic National Committee’s and Hillary Clinton’s law firm that only a few weeks ago defenestrated—for reasons unspecified, but we can guess— one of Hillary’s principal lawyers, Mark Elias.

The other Clinton campaign lawyer, Michael Sussman, has already been charged with lying to the FBI on the matter of alleged Trump links to the Russian Alpha Bank, ties that turned out to be non-existent.

This time, however, we learned that “Tech Executive-1” in the Sussman indictment is Rodney Joffe, a rather distinguished cybersecurity expert, but not in this case because he was apparently involved with the same attempted deception.

Mr. Joffe was evidently no fan of Donald Trump. How far he took his enmity we shall see as this plays out.

Or we won’t. Therein lies the problem. Many are worried that Durham will only take the investigation so far and then peter out.

A real Russiagate investigation has myriad possible targets with very famous names, some of the most famous, in fact. Yet negativism about the results is everywhere in conservative circles with some justification.

When then AG William Barr gave Durham his brief, he was quoted in The Hill (March 2020) as follows:

“Attorney General William Barr said Monday that he does not expect a criminal investigation of former President Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden to result from the probe undertaken by U.S. Attorney John Durham.

“Based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr told reporters at the Justice Department. ‘Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.’”

Sounds pretty weak, doesn’t it, with some people, too big to be investigated, surrounded by a cordon sanitaire.

Yet rumor has it already that Jake Sullivan is under suspicion in the Alpha Bank matter, at the least. That’s remarkably close to Biden as Sullivan is his National Security Advisor, one of the most powerful positions in the country (cf. Henry Kissinger), as we have seen, to our national misfortune, during the Afghanistan debacle.

How justified is that suspicion of Sullivan? Paul Sperry wrote in Real Clear Investigations:

“The indictment states that Sussmann, as well as the cyber experts recruited for the operation, ‘coordinated with representatives and agents of the Clinton campaign with regard to the data and written materials that Sussmann gave to the FBI and the media.’ One of those campaign agents was Sullivan, according to emails Durham obtained.”

Biden himself was said to have recommended the ancient and hardly-used Logan Act—how he would even have known about it is worth finding out, but anyway…—in an attempt to punish Gen. Michael Flynn during an oft-discussed, but never fully revealed, Oval Office meeting at the tail end (Jan. 5, 2017) of the Obama administration.

That meeting itself, emailed about by Susan Rice weeks after it took place seemingly to provide Obama presidential deniability, is even more worthy of exploration—or is it off limits as per William Barr? We don’t know.

Yes, there is plenty of reason to be skeptical. The Sullivan matter has barely been discussed in the mainstream media, even though the possible miscreant is the National Security Advisor.

Is everything being sent down the memory hole? Who exactly is to blame in all this? We don’t know that either, though we have guesses about that too.

But it is imperative we must ultimately know. Durham must carry his investigation through to the end, because Russiagate quite clearly marked the beginning of the end of our democratic republic as we knew it.

All the malfeasances that have occurred since from the endless COVID lockdowns to Afghanistan to the open border to the violence in our streets and the relentless propaganda and bizarre arrests surrounding Jan. 6, not to mention the 2020 election itself, point back to it, relate to it, in one way or another.

None of these events would have happened the way they did without it. Some would not have happened at all.

Russiagate was a crime whose extent and import dwarfed Watergate and made that supposed scandal, subject of a Hollywood movie though it is, barely as important, by comparison, as shoplifting at a 7-11.

Yet Nixon and the others paid, badly. Hardly anyone has been punished here so far beyond what has amounted to slaps on the wrists.

So what do we do? Do we sit back passively, maybe adding a few snipes here and there, and let Durham do his job, hoping for the best?

I say no. We all have a role to play. Durham is a man like the rest of us. Consciously or unconsciously, if he knows we’re watching, he’s going to behave in a different manner than if he thinks we’re lulled to sleep.

Be as active as possible in talking and lobbying about this. You don’t have to be a so-called “elite” to do this or be an anchorman on ABC. You just have to be a concerned citizen, an honest man or woman. Keep talking about it to friend and foe. Show up with a sign at an inconvenient (for them) place. Put it on the internet, text to everyone you know or can think of. Discuss it on Signal and Telegraph. Never let Russiagate be forgotten. Put it out there in the zeitgeist and keep it there.

The mainstream/legacy media isn’t going to do it. They will obfuscate as much as possible. We have to do it. It’s up to us. If we don’t, we have no grounds for complaint when it goes down the memory hole—and with it our country.

Two things are of paramount importance to us going forward if we want to save our republic, this full explication of what happened during the Trump-Russia affair, including everyone responsible being properly punished, so we are sure as we can be it will never happen again, and genuine integrity for our broken elections.

Work on that too. Many already are. The two go hand in hand.

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/04/2021 - 22:20
Published:10/4/2021 9:29:16 PM
[Barack Obama] Understanding the stalking of Sinema (Scott Johnson) The LUCHA thugs who stalked Senator Sinema into the ladies’ room at Arizona State yesterday were not out to win friends or influence people in the style of Dale Carnegie. In lieu of decency or an argument, they drew on time-tested tactics. At the opening of chapter 4 of Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, Stanley Kurtz relates a well-sourced story illustrating the precedent for LUCHA’s Published:10/4/2021 3:04:28 PM
[Markets] CDC Director Says Vaccines 'Can't Prevent Transmission'; Fauci Says 'Too Early To Tell' On Holiday Gatherings CDC Director Says Vaccines 'Can't Prevent Transmission'; Fauci Says 'Too Early To Tell' On Holiday Gatherings

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said last week that Covid vaccines 'can't prevent transmission' anymore despite working "exceptionally well."

"Our vaccines are working exceptionally well. They continue to work well for Delta with regard to severe illness and death - they prevent it, but what they can't do anymore is prevent transmission," she told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "So if you’re going home to someone who is not vaccinated…I would suggest you wear a mask in public indoor settings," she continued.

That said, Walensky may have actually undersold the vaccines. According to a preprint study by British scientists at the University of Oxford, people who have taken AstraAeneca's Covid-19 vaccine and contract the virus are just as likely to spread it as the unvaccinated after 90 days, while the Pfizer vaccine's ability to reduce transmission is "substantially" reduced over the same period, according to the records of nearly 150,000 contacts that were traced from approximately 100,000 initial cases.

As NBC News reports, "The samples included people who were fully or partially vaccinated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) or the AstraZeneca (ChAd0x1) vaccines, as well as people who were unvaccinated. The researchers then looked at how the vaccines affected the spread of the virus if a person had a breakthrough infection with either the alpha variant or the highly contagious delta variant." Of note, both vaccines were more effective against the Alpha variant.

Initially, both vaccines reduced transmission from a fully vaccinated person to a given contact. Specifically, if a vaccinated individual is infected with the Delta variant, a given contact was 65% less likely to test positive if the infected had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and 36% less likely with AstraZeneca.

Yet, buried in the 14th paragraph of the report, NBC News notes:

The new study showed that protection against transmission seemed to wane over time, however. After three months, people who had breakthrough infections after being vaccinated with AstraZeneca were just as likely to spread the delta variant as the unvaccinated. While protection against transmission decreased in people who had received the Pfizer vaccine, there was still a benefit when compared with people who were unvaccinated.

In the words of the researchers, the Pfizer vaccine's ability to reduce transmission was 'substantially' lower by week 12.

They also found that while the Pfizer vaccine was superior in reducing transmission to contacts, protection against Covid-19 in the first place waned faster vs. AstraZeneca.

As for where people are coming into contact with the infected - the study found that 70% occurred within households, 10% from household visitors, 10% at 'events and activities,' and 10% at work or school.

What does this mean for the holidays? According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, it's 'too soon to tell' whether people can safely gather together for Christmas this year.

And why aren't US officials acknowledging naturally acquired immunity?

With all the mixed messaging, is anyone really shocked at the widespread 'vaccine hesitancy' among healthcare professionals?

As the Babylon Bee jokes:

Tyler Durden Sun, 10/03/2021 - 16:30
Published:10/3/2021 3:54:34 PM
[Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle] Biden Hopes to Help Unions Skim Money from Home Health Providers

by Frank Salvato -

The Biden Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), wants to reinstate an Obama-era regulation that allowed labor unions to skim an estimated $1 billion from Medicaid payments to home healthcare providers. The proposal “will place a federal stamp of approval on abusive state and union practices to pressure, mislead, …

Biden Hopes to Help Unions Skim Money from Home Health Providers is posted on Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:10/3/2021 1:44:21 AM
[Opinion] Biden Wants To Renew Union Skimming From Payments To Home-Health Providers

by Frank Salvato -

The Biden Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), wants to reinstate an Obama-era regulation that allowed labor unions to skim an estimated $1 billion from Medicaid payments to home healthcare providers. The proposal “will place a federal stamp of approval on abusive state and union practices to pressure, mislead, …

Biden Wants To Renew Union Skimming From Payments To Home-Health Providers is posted on Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:10/2/2021 9:51:34 PM
[Markets] Orwell And The Woke Orwell And The Woke

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson,

 "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

- George Orwell, "Animal Farm"

What were we to make of multimillionaire Barack Obama's 60th birthday bash at his Martha's Vineyard estate, and the throng of the woke wealthy and their masked helot attendants?

Was socialist Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) suffering for the people when she wore a designer dress to the more than $30,000-a-ticket Met gala? Her entourage needs were certainly well-attended to by masked Morlock servants.

Did the leftist celebrities at the recent Emmy awards gather to discuss opening Malibu beaches to the homeless when the (unmasked) stars virtue-signaled their wokeness?

For answers about these hypocritical wokists, always turn first to George Orwell.

In his brief allegorical novella, "Animal Farm," an array of animal characters -- led by the thinking pigs of the farm -- staged a revolution, driving out their human overseers.

The anti-human animal comrades started out sounding like zealous Russian Bolsheviks ("four legs good, two legs bad"). But soon they ended up conned by a murderous cult of pigs under a Joseph Stalin-like leader. And so, the revolution became what it once had opposed ("four legs good, two legs better").

Our own woke, year-zero revolution is now in its second year. Yet last year's four-legged revolutionaries are already strutting on two legs. They are not just hobnobbing with the "white supremacists" and "capitalists," but outdoing them in their revolutionary zeal for the rarified privileges of the material good life.

The Marxist co-founder of BLM, Patrisse Cullors, is now on her fourth woke home. She has moved on from the barricades to the security fences of her Topanga Canyon digs in a mostly all-white, all-rich rural paradise--the rewards for revolutionary service.

Professor Ibram X. Kendi has evolved from the edgy revolutionary work of flying all over the country, hawking his Orwellian message of "All racism bad! But some racism good!" Now he has mastered the art of zooming the wannabe woke for his $20,000 an hour avant-garde hectoring.

What of Colin Kaepernick, the mediocre second-string quarterback turned sudden firebrand? He refused to stand for the national anthem and spread his "take a knee" kitsch throughout professional sports.

Kaepernick became a boutique revolutionary multimillionaire. For $12 million a year, he pitches Nike sneakers, often made in Chinese forced-labor camps.

Woke NBA star LeBron James, from his $23 million Brentwood mansion, blasts America for its endless unfairness--in service to his totalitarian Chinese paymasters who will ensure his good life with an eventual lifetime $1 billion payout for hawking their goods.

Our other elite wokists navigating around the revolution are even more cynical. The corporate and Wall Street capitalists feel that a little virtue signaling, showy diversity coordinators, and woke advertising will more or less buy off the latest version of Al-Sharpton-like shake-down artists.

Then there are the trimmers and enablers. These are the wealthy, rich, and the professional classes. They feel--in abstract--absolutely terrible about inequality, but hardly enough in the concrete to mix with the unwashed.

For them, wokism is like party membership in the late ethically bankrupt Soviet Union. It is necessary for peace of mind and good income, but otherwise not an obstacle for the continuance of the privileged, comfortable life.

The more TV news hosts rant about "systemic" this and "supremacy" that, and the more college presidents write stern penance memos to their faculty about "that's not who we are," the more they feel not just good about themselves, but relieved of any real obligation to live and socialize with the Other.

As for the self-declared non-white Other, wokism is also a top-down revolution of celebrities, intellectuals, actors, activists, academics, grifters, lawyers, and the upper-middle class and rich. And they are not calling for a Marshall Plan to bring classical education to the inner city. They themselves have little desire to move in or spread their wealth. They rarely mentor others on their shrewd capitalist expertise that made themselves rich.

They are far more cynical than that. The regrettable violence of the street, the 120 days of 2020 looting, death and arson, are the levers of the woke professionals. They fight with the various tribes of the same class and mindset over the slices of the same coveted elite pies. But they bring to the scrap the unspoken cudgel that without greater non-white de facto quotas in comic books, TV commercials, Ivy League faculties and students, symphonies, and sit-coms, then "systemic racism" could once again ignite downtown Portland or Seattle or Baltimore.

Orwell would say of the woke Obamas, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, Bernie Sanders, LeBron James, or Ibram Kendi--and their supposedly unwoke, but similarly rich and privileged enemies -- "It was impossible to say which was which."

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/01/2021 - 22:20
Published:10/1/2021 9:37:15 PM
[Media] WATCH: Ozy Media’s Embarrassing Softball Interview With Disgraced Ex-Chairman Marc Lasry

Democrat Marc Lasry, the billionaire owner of the Milwaukee Bucks whose alleged ties to the Russian mob scuttled his chances of being named U.S. ambassador to France under former president Barack Obama, resigned as chairman of Ozy Media on Thursday.

The post WATCH: Ozy Media’s Embarrassing Softball Interview With Disgraced Ex-Chairman Marc Lasry appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:10/1/2021 4:06:07 PM
[Society] The California Recall: Enter Snoop Dogg and Barack Obama

At one point, polls showed the odds of recalling California Gov. Gavin Newsom looked 50-50. It was at that point that the scared, embattled governor... Read More

The post The California Recall: Enter Snoop Dogg and Barack Obama appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:10/1/2021 3:05:23 PM
[Markets] NYC Teachers File Emergency Request With Supreme Court To Block COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate NYC Teachers File Emergency Request With Supreme Court To Block COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

A group of teachers on Thursday filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court, asking justices to block New York City’s school COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, a group of teachers, said in a 99-page petition that the mandate “threatens the education of thousands of children in the largest public-school system in the country and violates the substantive due process and equal protection rights afforded to all public-school employees.”

The mandate forces teachers and other school workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine to remain employed unless they are approved for a religious or medical exemption.

A federal judge last week granted a temporary injunction against it but a federal appeals panel on Monday decided to let the mandate take effect. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel did not explain their ruling.

Thousands of teachers will lose their jobs when the order imposes punishment at 5 p.m. on Oct. 1 even though municipal employees who don’t work for schools can opt-out of a separate mandate by submitting to weekly testing, lawyers for the teachers wrote to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama nominee.

That amounts to discrimination against public school workers, they argued, appealing for intervention from the nation’s top court.

“Applicants will suffer irreparable harm if their request for injunctive relief is denied,” they said.

Emergency requests can be filed to the Supreme Court by lawyers who think lower courts have ruled wrongly and who believe “irreparable harm” will result if a stay is not granted. The requests are sent to a single judge, who has the power to deny them or to agree, which would temporarily block the mandate and move the matter to the full court for consideration.

Danielle Filson, a spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who announced the vaccine mandate, said on social media that the teacher plaintiffs “have no valid claims.”

New York City’s Department of Education “has the authority to implement a mandate that is firmly grounded in science & the expertise of public health officials from across the nation,” she added.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/01/2021 - 12:20
Published:10/1/2021 11:31:00 AM
[Markets] Escobar: The Living Dead Pax Americana Escobar: The Living Dead Pax Americana

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Saker blog,

Perth in Australia will be a forward base for nuclear-powered and nuclear weapon-carrying American subs.

Pax Americana was always a minor character in a zombie apocalypse flick.

Pax Americana is actually The Eternal Return of the Living Dead. “Pax” was never in order; War Inc. rules. The end of WWII led directly to the Cold War. The unipolar moment was an arc from the First Gulf War to the bombing of Yugoslavia. 9/11 launched the Global War on Terror (GWOT), renamed Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) by Team Obama. We are now entering Cold War 2.0 against China.

What former CIA analyst Ray McGovern memorably describes as the MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex) never did “Pax”. They do War, in unison, like The Knights Who Say “Ni!” – minus the comic flair.

Take this Knight for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the heart of the establishment matrix. CFR specializes in Kissingerian Divide and Rule. Now that applies, in spades, to the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Knights overwhelmingly state the obvious: “Chinese power must be contained”. They sell the current, serial imperial debacle as “grand strategic moves”, in a quirky, lost in translation mixed salad of Gramsci and Lampedusa: a “new order” (engineered by the Empire) is being born via “everything must change so everything may remain the same” – privileging the Empire.

Other Knights even propose the ludicrous notion that the current POTUS, an actual zombie remote-controlled by a teleprompter, is capable of conceiving a “foreign policy for the middle class” , as if the MICIMATT would ever approve a scheme to “advance prosperity in the free world as a whole”. The “free world” has just been stunned by the “prosperity” offered to Afghanistan during 20 “bombing to democracy” years.

And then there are British Knights, who at least should have known their Monty Python by heart, carping about illiberalism and the “regimes created by Xi and Putin” , which will “crumble” and be succeeded by “anarchy and new despotisms.” Same old Anglo haughtiness mixed with piercing ignorance. Oh, those Asiatic “tyrannies” threatening the White Man’s civilizational drive.

We all live in an Aussie submarine

Now it’s all about AUKUS – actually U SUK A. Until recently, only the P5 – the five permanent UNSC members – possessed nuclear-powered submarines. India joined the club, and later rather than sooner, Australia.

Every major player knows the next American war will not be about remote Pacific islands. Taiwan, though, is a completely different ball game. U SUK A is mostly about Taiwan.

U SUK A was finalized at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay last June. That was an Anglo Boys Club affair, discussed exclusively by the Biden-BoJo-Morrison troika – and duly excluding Japan, even as Tokyo all but drew a samurai sword yelling its intent of supporting Taiwan.

The problem is there have been no leaks of the fine print contained in U SUK A. Only spin. Yet it’s already clear that U SUK A goes way beyond building Aussie nuclear subs. Canberra will also have access to Tomahawks, Hornets and even become part of American hypersonic missile research.

But then, in a slip, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton gave away the game: U SUK A will allow the upgrading of “the infrastructure in Perth, that will be necessary for the operation of these submarines. I expect we will see…lease arrangements or greater joint operations between our navies in the future.”

Translation: Perth will be a forward base for nuclear-powered and nuclear weapon-carrying American subs.

Why U SUK A now? Let’s go back to WWII – and the same old cartoonish geopolitics of benign Anglo maritime island powers pitted against the “evil” Eurasian heartland.

WWII was the solution to simultaneously prevent Germany from dominating the Atlantic and Japan from dominating the Asia-Pacific (by the way, that’s the correct terminology: “Indo-Pacific” is Empire-speak).

Germany-Japan was all about an alliance that would be predominant across the Eurasian heartland. Now, the Empire of Chaos is being slowly but surely expelled from the Eurasian heartland – this time by the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Those with technical knowledge across the Beltway – not, not the Knights – are aware the US is not a match for hypersonic Russia. Yet the Americans believe they can make life unbearable for Beijing. The US establishment will allow China to control the Western Pacific over their dead bodies. Enter the instrumentalization of Australia.

A big question is what will be the new role of the Five Eyes. With U SUK A, the Anglo Club has already stepped beyond mere intel sharing and spying on communications. This is a military pact between Three Eyes.

Depending on the composition of its new government, Germany could become a Sixth Eye – yet in a subordinate role. With U SUK A, NATO as a whole, fresh from its spectacular Afghan debacle, becomes little else than a semi-relevant vassal. This is all about maritime power.

U SUK A in effect is a Quad Plus, with India and Japan, the Fifth Columnist Asians, only allowed to play the role of, once again, mere vassals.

War before 2040

Not surprisingly, the first, concise technical and strategic assessment of U SUK A is Russian, written by Alexander Timokhin and published in Vzglyad, closely linked to GRU intelligence. Here, provided by John Helmer, is an essential English translation.

The key points:

  • the extra subs will create a serious, additional threat; “the problem of combating enemy submarine forces will become quite acute for China.”

  • Geographically, “Australia can completely block the connection between China and the Indian Ocean.”

  • Australia will meet the deadlines only if it lays “more submarines a year than the Americans.”

  • It is “possible to quickly make Australia a country with a submarine fleet.” These “gigantic investments and sharp political turns are not carried out just like that. The hegemony of the Anglo-Saxons in the world is seriously shaken.”

And that brings us to the inevitable conclusion: “It is worth recognizing that the world is on the verge of war.”

Even before the Vzglyad strategic assessment, I had submitted the ravings of yet another Beltway Knight – widely praised as a sage – to an old school, dissident Deep State intel analyst. His assessment was merciless.

He wrote me, “the geopolitical logic is that the China-Russia alliance was determined to be against US interests, much as the Mao-Stalin alliance. SEATO and NATO are being replicated. The treaty between England, Australia and the US is part of the Pacific rebalancing, or a new SEATO. NATO is part of the offset against Russia-China in Europe.”

On what might lie ahead, he noted that “the coup against the US, Australia, England and NATO would be a French-Russian alliance to break up NATO and isolate Germany. Russia has unsuccessfully approached Germany, and now may approach France. The loss of France would effectively end NATO.”

He sees U SUK A all dressed up with nowhere to go: “As it stands now, China is in command of the Pacific and Australia and Britain mean nothing. Russia can overrun NATO in two weeks, our adversaries’ hypersonic missiles can destroy all NATO airfields within five to ten minutes and the battle for Europe would be over.”

He’s adamant that “the US cannot project power into the Pacific. Chinese submarine missiles would finish off the US fleet in short order. The Australian submarine issue is really irrelevant; if the CIA had an organization that was worth anything they would know that our adversaries already can spot and destroy our nuclear submarines without the slightest difficulty. The entire US Navy is obsolete and defenseless against Russian missiles.”

And it gets worse – at least for the cheerleading Knights: “The F-35 is obsolete. The Air Force is largely worthless, as Russian and Chinese missiles can finish off their airfields or aircraft carriers in short order. The woke US Army is more worthless than the French Army with their Maginot Line. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are paid less than 200k a year, and are second or third rate talent. The US is a sinking ship.”

Assuming that’s really the case, the – nuclear – war against China in the Western Pacific, projected in the Beltway to happen in the second half of the 2030s, would be over even before it started. Taiwan may even be part of China by then – an offshoot of Beijing always proposing economic exchanges to all, while Washington always “proposes” war.

One thing though will never change: The Knights Who Say “Ni!” singin’ the praise of Pax Americana to the utter indifference of the unruly plebs.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 23:40
Published:9/30/2021 11:05:21 PM
[] Whose Agenda Is It? Pelosi Calls Biden's 'Build Back Better' Plan 'Obama Agenda' Published:9/30/2021 10:26:41 AM
[Markets] The COVID Caste System The COVID Caste System

Authored by Dinesh D'Souza, op-ed via The Epoch Times,

Caste systems are not merely unjust; they are also ugly to behold. Commenting to me once on India’s caste system, when I was a child, my father said, “People in this country still use the word ‘untouchable,’ which is if you think about it a very unlovely term.”

While India’s caste system persists despite being outlawed, America traditionally has not had a caste system.

Until now.

We can see emerging, right here in America, a sharp divide between progressive elites and ordinary citizens.

This divide can be seen in multiple areas.

Progressive elites have high walls protecting their homes, even as they declare that “walls don’t work.”

They have private security, even as they insist Americans don’t need guns to protect themselves.

They somehow elude accountability even when they break the same laws that get ordinary citizens into major trouble.

Nowhere, however, is the new American caste system more evident than with COVID-19.

Did you see Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) at the Met gala? The publicity focused on her “Tax the Rich” dress, but just as notable was the video, released by Vogue magazine, of AOC in full Cinderella mode, flanked by multiple attendants, straightening out her hair, fixing her dress, holding up the long train, adjusting her heels. They were all masked; she was not.

This was hardly an isolated case. Shortly before the Met gala, the Obamas held a massive party to celebrate Obama’s 60th birthday. Again, the guests that included political leaders, business moguls, and Hollywood celebrities were all unmasked. The chefs, the servers, the valets, and the other staff were all masked. An upper caste and a lower caste, both playing their roles in Obama’s large tent.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also just had a birthday, and video showed a small, unventilated room in which Jayapal and her maskless friends all partied together. It was the same story with San Francisco mayor London Breed, who violated her own mask mandate while partying at a club. “I was feeling the spirit,” she explained, “and I wasn’t thinking about a mask.”

The Emmys, too, featured clip after clip of unmasked actors, producers, and directors walking the press photo line, and only when they crossed over to the other side could you see all the staff and attendants, masked of course, taking them back to their seats. Asked about this double standard, LA County’s  Health Department put out a statement saying that mask “exceptions are made for film, television and music productions,” because “persons appearing on the show are considered performers.” The virus, evidently, has no interest in infecting “performers.”

To understand what’s going on in its widest significance, consider the true meaning of the famous phrase in the Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal.” What does this phrase mean? At one level, certainly, it means that we enjoy equality of rights. The Constitution goes on to specify not merely equality of rights but also equal treatment under the law.

This concept of equality of rights should not, as Abraham Lincoln emphasized, be confused with equality of outcomes. Human beings are obviously unequal in height, in speed, in beauty, in intelligence, even in moral character. An equal start in the race does not mean, obviously, that all individuals or even all groups must hit the finishing tape at the same time.

Yet at the same time there’s a broader meaning to the equality provision that goes beyond rights. We are not merely equal as human beings, we are “created” equal. This means that we are equally the children of God, and it follows from this that God loves us equally and therefore there’s an equal dignity in persons that derives, ultimately, from the fact that they’re created by a transcendent God.

How does this equal dignity play out in American life? It simply means that someone—say Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates—might have more money than you or me, but they are not better than you or me. In America, we have maids but not servants, and in many restaurants we call even the waiter “Sir,” as if he were a knight. The political philosopher Irving Kristol once said there’s no restaurant in America to which a CEO could go in the absolute assurance that he would not also find his secretary dining there.

So the Declaration of Independence affirms a social equality that is the very antithesis of a caste system. Yet precisely what our founding documents reject, the progressive elite, mostly made up of Democrats, is attempting to create for the first time in America a society divided into an elite upper caste and a mass lower caste, with separate rules applying to each group, in accordance with their caste status.

It’s unlovely. It’s downright ugly. It’s also immoral. And it’s certainly un-American.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/29/2021 - 22:00
Published:9/29/2021 9:20:54 PM
[Uncategorized] Despite Local Pushback, Obama Breaks Ground On ‘Presidential Center’ In Chicago

Obama doesn't care what the little folk think.

The post Despite Local Pushback, Obama Breaks Ground On ‘Presidential Center’ In Chicago first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:9/29/2021 8:25:24 PM
[Markets] Democrats Suggest Giving President, Treasury Power To Raise Debt Limit Democrats Suggest Giving President, Treasury Power To Raise Debt Limit

Authored by Joseph Lord via The Epoch Times,

After a Tuesday meeting of the Democratic caucus, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spent much of the press conference discussing the debt ceiling. As Republicans continue to block Democratic efforts to raise the debt limit, Pelosi indicated that members of her caucus are already looking for ways to avoid the challenge in the future—specifically, by giving the president-appointed secretary of the Treasury the power to raise the debt limit on their own.

The caucus meeting came after the Senate rejected debate on the Democrat-authored continuing resolution to fund the government Monday evening in a roughly party-line vote. The vote was the culmination of months of posturing by Senate Republicans, who have insisted since August that they would not vote to increase the debt limit.

In a petition drafted by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), 46 Republicans signatories—including former presidential candidates Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)—explained their reasoning.

The petition accused Democrats of an “unprecedented deficit spending spree,” and insisted that they should take ownership for the spending by raising the debt limit on their own. While Democrats do have the votes to do this, it has been an avenue that Democratic leaders have been unwilling to take, as some polls have shown that debt ceiling increases are unpopular with the American people (pdf).

Pelosi, Democrats Considering Both Legislative and Executive Options After Senate Vote

In her Tuesday press conference, Pelosi discussed Democratic plans in the wake of this vote. Because of the “imminent” nature of the debt ceiling crisis, Pelosi said that the caucus spent most of their time on the debt ceiling issue.

She warned of the effects from failing to raise the debt ceiling, including a default for the first time in American history. Such a default, Pelosi said, would wipe out “trillions in family wealth” for middle Americans. Pelosi also warned that “Just the discussion of … failing to raise the debt ceiling [under the Obama Administration] lowered our credit rating.”

She continued: “This is not about future spending, this is to pay the bills that were incurred. Only 3 percent of this is about Joe Biden’s presidency. The bulk of it is under the previous president’s administration.”

Still, Pelosi said that Democrats plan to put forward a new “clean” continuing resolution, the only effect of which would be to continue to fund the government through December. The continuing resolution rejected Monday by the Senate was significantly more expansive, ordering billions in new spending to address the ongoing Afghan special immigrant crisis and the aftereffects of Hurricane Ida.

On the Senate floor Monday, McConnell indicated that he and other Republicans may be willing to vote for such a resolution.

Pelosi also discussed much more ambitious executive options for resolving the current crisis and preventing such crises in the future.

Pelosi criticized the opposition party for their vote.

“When the Republicans refuse to cooperate on this, they are jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States of America, which is guaranteed in the Constitution,” she said.

Here, Pelosi is referencing the so-called “public debt clause” of the 14th amendment, which reads, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

Though the clause was a post-Civil War amendment meant to deal with immediate issues at the time, some have interpreted the clause as giving the president unilateral authority to raise the debt ceiling.

President Bill Clinton, discussing a similar standoff over the debt ceiling in the mid-90s, interpreted this cause to give the president authority to raise the debt limit on his own authority if Congress fails to do so. Clinton said he would have used the clause “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me.” But many, including President Barack Obama, have been unconvinced of the constitutionality of this move.

Though it is unclear how such an executive action would work, Pelosi indicated that Democrats were considering it.

“I’ll let you know soon,” she replied when asked if the clause would be used. “The point is it’s in the Constitution. We really do not have to go through this all the time.”

Pelosi also said that Democrats were considering options to give the Treasury Secretary the power to raise the debt limit, a suggestion that she said was put forward by Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). Yarmuth has previously suggested that Congress’s role in the debt ceiling should be abolished altogether.

The House Speaker clarified how this new process would work. Because of constitutional requirements that debt and revenue schemes be approved by Congress, Pelosi said that Congress would have the power to reject a debt limit increase undertaken by the Treasury Secretary after the fact. But that would require at a minimum 51 senators as well as a signature from the president, a move that would severely constrict the minority party’s ability to stop or reject such raises.  

“Nevertheless,” said Pelosi, “it has to be addressed and it’s about paying past bills.”

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/29/2021 - 10:42
Published:9/29/2021 9:53:03 AM
[Markets] Will Biden's Border Crisis Cost Democrats Texas Seats? Will Biden's Border Crisis Cost Democrats Texas Seats?

Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClearPolitics.com,

As the immigration crisis worsens in South Texas, President Biden’s inconsistent border policies and messaging are not only damaging his approval ratings nationwide, but they could also cost the Democratic Party once-safe seats in Congress.

The Rio Grande Valley is the epicenter of the crisis, and its residents feel the impact of the surge in border crossings every day. Illegal crossings reached a 21-year high in July with 212,672 encounters reported by the U.S. Border Patrol that month alone. Across southern Texas, car chases have spiked this year, nearly nine-fold in some areas. Ranchers struggle to balance compassion for exhausted immigrants crossing through their property with concerns over personal safety, as well as costs to repair broken fences, trashed land, and stolen equipment. Federal agents also have reported a staggering increase of 4,000 in fentanyl seizures this year in Texas as smugglers exploit stretched border-patrol resources.

Although Democrats now control a trio of House seats representing Texas’ southern-most border with Mexico, voting patterns are making the districts more competitive.

Republicans are heavily targeting all three seats after the 2020 election showed a surprising swing in the GOP’s favor along the Texas-Mexico border. Once deep-blue, the three districts voted for Biden by just two to four percentage points, down from the 17-to-22-point margin Hillary Clinton racked up in 2016. Republicans also have redistricting on their side this year with the GOP-controlled Texas legislature poised to redraw several congressional districts in their favor.

Recent polling from the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas signaled another reason for Democratic angst: Biden’s approval rating is underwater among Latino voters in the Lone Star State. More than 54% of the state’s registered Latino voters said they disapprove of the job Biden is doing overall, while only 35% said they approve.

When it comes to the president’s handling of the immigration crisis at the border, only 29% of the state’s Latino voters indicated their support while 52% said they disapprove (with the rest undecided). The survey was conducted Sept. 7-14, before more than 12,000 Haitian immigrants amassed under the Del Rio International Bridge, creating a new humanitarian crisis with immigration facilities already stretched beyond capacity.

The shift in voting patterns is already having an impact.

Earlier this year, Rep. Filemon Vela, who represents Texas’ 34th Congressional District, which includes the city of Brownsville, abruptly announced his retirement.

In 2020, he won reelection by nearly 14 percentage points in a seat generally considered safe for Democrats. But national Republicans identified Vela as a target after Biden won the district by just four points, down from the 21.5-point Clinton margin. Five Republicans and four Democrats are now running to replace Vela in what promises to be a sharply contested campaign.

Reps. Henry Cuellar (pictured) and Vicente Gonzalez, the two other Democratic congressmen who represent the Rio Grande Valley, are fighting to keep their seats while taking different approaches to the immigration crisis, even though both strongly campaigned for Biden last year.

Cuellar, who has regularly bucked his party’s leadership over the years, has been an outspoken critic of Biden’s more lenient immigration policies, repeatedly blasting the administration for creating “incentives” for immigrants to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. instead of instituting “uncomfortable” but effective deportation policies.

The 16-year House veteran was the first lawmaker to provide photos of overcrowded detention facilities in Donna, Texas, when the administration was instituting a media blackout earlier this year. He also led calls for Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden’s point person on immigration, to visit the border months before her trip to Central America in June.

Last week, Cuellar waded into the debate over whether Border Patrol agents in Del Rio were using their horse reins as whips against Haitian immigrants, defending their efforts to stop illegal crossings while acknowledging that all immigrants must be treated humanely. Appearing on “CNN Newsroom” Tuesday, Cueller was asked about the photos of border agents chasing migrants on horses – and one that a host said appeared to be using a “rope or a lasso.”

He quickly came to the agents’ defense.

"Certainly, we got to make sure we treat all the immigrants with respect and dignity, but I will say this: Border Patrol has had those horse brigades for a while. They’ve had them for a while, number one. Number two, they don’t carry whips, and they do not carry lassos.”

"Should those be used, even if it is a rein?" the CNN host asked.

"If there was a problem, it should be investigated, and I think that’s it,” Cuellar responded.

“But we cannot paint the Border Patrol with the same type of paintbrush. What are they supposed to do, just stand there and let everybody come in? They’re supposed to be enforcing the law.”

After the images surfaced, creating an uproar among civil rights leaders, the Homeland Security Department launched an investigation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Wednesday that agents in Del Rio would no longer use horses to try to prevent illegal crossings.

Cuellar has represented South Texas for his entire career, either in the state legislature or in Congress. He won reelection last year by a whopping 20 points but faced a serious challenge during the primary, besting a more liberal candidate by just 3.6 percentage points. The same Democratic challenger, Jessica Cisneros, is running against him again. Republicans suggest that Cuellar is in a lose-lose situation, barely fending off a primary opponent in 2020 and facing a rematch because his immigration views aren’t liberal enough for the Democratic Party even if they represent his district as a whole.

Vicente Gonzalez appears to be even more vulnerable than Cuellar. He won reelection by just 2.9 points last fall after topping his GOP rival in 2018 by 19.6 points. Despite that shift, Gonzalez has mainly defended the administration’s immigration policies, praising Harris’ plan to address the root-causes of immigration as “a holistic approach” to “create conditions for people to want to stay in their native countries.”

“We had a good meeting a few weeks ago with the vice president, and I think she has a very good plan to get to the root causes, which will be the only way to ultimately curb the mass migration,” he told CNN in early June.

“If we don’t address the root causes, all we’re doing is putting a Band-Aid on it on our border.”

Over the last two weeks, as the Haitian immigration crisis overwhelmed resources in Del Rio, Gonzalez has steered clear of the controversy, refraining even from tweeting about it. But during a Fox News appearance Thursday, host Neil Cavuto pressed him on Biden’s decision to stop allowing the agents to use horses to control the border.

Gonzalez called it a “very complex and tough situation that we have to investigate.”

“We certainly need to find an orderly way to deal with the crisis,” he added. “I’m not for just releasing people into the country. We need to have a vetting process before they get here.”

A member of the moderate Problem Solvers Caucus, Gonzalez has pushed back against progressives’ calls to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. But he has not joined Cuellar in forcefully criticizing Biden’s approach even as he’s decried the way it has enriched Mexican drug cartels.

Since Biden took office, Gonzalez laments, those cartels are taking advantage of immigrants, charging each of them $6,000 to get to the U.S. border, and raking in more than $1.3 billion in the first few months of this year alone.

The three-term Texas Democrat has so far unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Biden administration to back his idea to establish a processing center for asylum seekers on the Mexico-Guatemala border where immigrants could apply for asylum and fly to the U.S. only if and when they qualify. President Trump secured an agreement with Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras to use their militaries to prevent caravans from continuing into the United States, but when COVID hit, he used an obscure health measure, known as Title 42, to deport immigrants immediately without due process for their asylum requests in the name of public health. Biden is under fire from the left for continuing to use the policy to deport thousands of immigrants while releasing others into the U.S. who have requested asylum.

Those deciding to make the dangerous journey north are only coming from certain impoverished pockets of several Central American countries, Gonzalez has asserted. Because of this, the U.S. needs to make “surgical, thoughtful, intelligent investments that create jobs, create security, that invest in agricultural projects, manufacturing and tourism and ideas that create better jobs for people to want to stay,” he argued.

He didn’t mention that the Obama administration’s attempt to address root-causes by sending billions of taxpayer dollars to Central America – an effort Biden led — had virtually no impact on the continued exodus north.

Gonzalez was far more critical of Trump’s immigration policies. Last year, he called on the administration to suspend its COVID immigration restrictions that were dramatically reducing the number of illegal border crossings but swelling border camp populations in Mexico.

"Imagine these people who have gone through a 2,000-mile trek and are now in a one-acre plot of land — thousands of them. Certainly, it's an easy place for viruses to spread," he told The Hill newspaper.

"Mexico could probably do more too, because I went over there, and it was a mess. It's not like detention centers on this side, as much as we complain about them. They're living in squalor —  tents on the ground and dirt. Now there's a place for them to plug in their phones and some port-a-potties, but it's really bad," he added.

With the ongoing border crisis continuing to be a drag on Biden’s poll numbers nationwide, Republicans are keeping close track of every statement Cuellar and Gonzalez make on the issue. If their districts keep trending purple next year, Republicans could see a path to retaking the House majority straight through the border territory. No matter the outcome, Democrats will have to invest far more resources than usual to keep these seats in their column next year.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/28/2021 - 17:25
Published:9/28/2021 4:45:25 PM
[2021 News] Judicial Watch Just Blew The Roof Off The Benghazi Cover Up With Breaking FOIA

Judicial Watch Just Blew The Roof Off The Benghazi Cover Up With Breaking FOIA. Get people killed, then lie and joke about it while the MSM helps with the cover-up. (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released 80 pages of records that show top Obama White House officials scrambling to […]

The post Judicial Watch Just Blew The Roof Off The Benghazi Cover Up With Breaking FOIA appeared first on IHTM.

Published:9/28/2021 2:40:44 PM
[Uncategorized] Lee Greenwood’s Dismissal From Arts Council is Latest Petty Move by Biden

Biden is so much worse than Obama. EVERYTHING is partisan with him. If military advisory boards and the national arts council are partisan then even the most serious matter will be partisan to him.

The post Lee Greenwood’s Dismissal From Arts Council is Latest Petty Move by Biden first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:9/27/2021 6:07:45 PM
[Markets] Biden Admin Loses DACA Appeal In Texas... So They're Just Making A New Rule Biden Admin Loses DACA Appeal In Texas... So They're Just Making A New Rule

After losing an appeal to preserve the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Biden administration announced on Monday that it will simply create a new rule to circumvent the legal ruling.

"The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country," said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement, per The Hill.

"This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal. However, only Congress can provide permanent protection," Mayorkas added. "I support the inclusion of immigration reform in the reconciliation bill and urge Congress to act swiftly to provide Dreamers the legal status they need and deserve."

In July, a federal district judge ruled that the 2012 DACA program violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The ruling left intact DACA benefits for some 600,000 people - but blocked future applications. The Biden administration appealed the decision and lost.

The fate of Dreamers has been in limbo for years. Former President Trump sought to terminate the DACA policy in 2017, but it remained hung up in the courts after it was ruled the administration did not properly move to do so. President Biden signed an executive order upon taking office to strengthen the program, but officials have acknowledged Congress must enact a permanent fix.

Those efforts took a hit this month when the Senate's parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, ruled against Democrats' plan to provide 8 million green cards as part of their $3.5 trillion spending bill, dealing a significant blow to the party's immigration reform chances. -The Hill

That's not how any of this is supposed to work.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 13:19
Published:9/27/2021 12:41:19 PM
[Markets] "Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral "Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral

Via The Automatic Earth blog,

This is an anonymously posted document by someone who calls themselves Spartacus. Because it’s anonymous, I can’t contact them to ask for permission to publish. So I hesitated for a while, but it’s simply the best document I’ve seen on Covid, vaccines, etc. Whoever Spartacus is, they have a very elaborate knowledge in “the field”. If you want to know a lot more about the no. 1 issue in the world today, read it. And don’t worry if you don’t understand every single word, neither do I. But I learned a lot.

The original PDF doc is here: Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter

Hello,

My name is Spartacus, and I’ve had enough.

We have been forced to watch America and the Free World spin into inexorable decline due to a biowarfare attack. We, along with countless others, have been victimized and gaslit by propaganda and psychological warfare operations being conducted by an unelected, unaccountable Elite against the American people and our allies.

Our mental and physical health have suffered immensely over the course of the past year and a half. We have felt the sting of isolation, lockdown, masking, quarantines, and other completely nonsensical acts of healthcare theater that have done absolutely nothing to protect the health or wellbeing of the public from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, we are watching the medical establishment inject literal poison into millions of our fellow Americans without so much as a fight.

We have been told that we will be fired and denied our livelihoods if we refuse to vaccinate. This was the last straw.

We have spent thousands of hours analyzing leaked footage from Wuhan, scientific papers from primary sources, as well as the paper trails left by the medical establishment.

What we have discovered would shock anyone to their core.

First, we will summarize our findings, and then, we will explain them in detail. References will be placed at the end.

Summary:

  • COVID-19 is a blood and blood vessel disease. SARS-CoV-2 infects the lining of human blood vessels, causing them to leak into the lungs.

  • Current treatment protocols (e.g. invasive ventilation) are actively harmful to patients, accelerating oxidative stress and causing severe VILI (ventilator-induced lung injuries). The continued use of ventilators in the absence of any proven medical benefit constitutes mass murder.

  • Existing countermeasures are inadequate to slow the spread of what is an aerosolized and potentially wastewater-borne virus, and constitute a form of medical theater.

  • Various non-vaccine interventions have been suppressed by both the media and the medical establishment in favor of vaccines and expensive patented drugs.

  • The authorities have denied the usefulness of natural immunity against COVID-19, despite the fact that natural immunity confers protection against all of the virus’s proteins, and not just one.

  • Vaccines will do more harm than good. The antigen that these vaccines are based on, SARS-CoV- 2 Spike, is a toxic protein. SARS-CoV-2 may have ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement; current antibodies may not neutralize future strains, but instead help them infect immune cells. Also, vaccinating during a pandemic with a leaky vaccine removes the evolutionary pressure for a virus to become less lethal.

  • There is a vast and appalling criminal conspiracy that directly links both Anthony Fauci and Moderna to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

  • COVID-19 vaccine researchers are directly linked to scientists involved in brain-computer interface (“neural lace”) tech, one of whom was indicted for taking grant money from China.

  • Independent researchers have discovered mysterious nanoparticles inside the vaccines that are not supposed to be present.

  • The entire pandemic is being used as an excuse for a vast political and economic transformation of Western society that will enrich the already rich and turn the rest of us into serfs and untouchables.

COVID-19 Pathophysiology and Treatments:

COVID-19 is not a viral pneumonia. It is a viral vascular endotheliitis and attacks the lining of blood vessels, particularly the small pulmonary alveolar capillaries, leading to endothelial cell activation and sloughing, coagulopathy, sepsis, pulmonary edema, and ARDS-like symptoms. This is a disease of the blood and blood vessels. The circulatory system. Any pneumonia that it causes is secondary to that.

In severe cases, this leads to sepsis, blood clots, and multiple organ failure, including hypoxic and inflammatory damage to various vital organs, such as the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines.

Some of the most common laboratory findings in COVID-19 are elevated D-dimer, elevated prothrombin time, elevated C-reactive protein, neutrophilia, lymphopenia, hypocalcemia, and hyperferritinemia, essentially matching a profile of coagulopathy and immune system hyperactivation/immune cell exhaustion.

COVID-19 can present as almost anything, due to the wide tropism of SARS-CoV-2 for various tissues in the body’s vital organs. While its most common initial presentation is respiratory illness and flu-like symptoms, it can present as brain inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, or even heart attack or pulmonary embolism.

COVID-19 is more severe in those with specific comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. This is because these conditions involve endothelial dysfunction, which renders the circulatory system more susceptible to infection and injury by this particular virus.

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and do not cause significant disease. In known cases, there is something known as the 80/20 rule, where 80% of cases are mild and 20% are severe or critical. However, this ratio is only correct for known cases, not all infections. The number of actual infections is much, much higher. Consequently, the mortality and morbidity rate is lower. However, COVID-19 spreads very quickly, meaning that there are a significant number of severely-ill and critically-ill patients appearing in a short time frame.

In those who have critical COVID-19-induced sepsis, hypoxia, coagulopathy, and ARDS, the most common treatments are intubation, injected corticosteroids, and blood thinners. This is not the correct treatment for COVID-19. In severe hypoxia, cellular metabolic shifts cause ATP to break down into hypoxanthine, which, upon the reintroduction of oxygen, causes xanthine oxidase to produce tons of highly damaging radicals that attack tissue. This is called ischemia-reperfusion injury, and it’s why the majority of people who go on a ventilator are dying. In the mitochondria, succinate buildup due to sepsis does the same exact thing; when oxygen is reintroduced, it makes superoxide radicals. Make no mistake, intubation will kill people who have COVID-19.

The end-stage of COVID-19 is severe lipid peroxidation, where fats in the body start to “rust” due to damage by oxidative stress. This drives autoimmunity. Oxidized lipids appear as foreign objects to the immune system, which recognizes and forms antibodies against OSEs, or oxidation-specific epitopes. Also, oxidized lipids feed directly into pattern recognition receptors, triggering even more inflammation and summoning even more cells of the innate immune system that release even more destructive enzymes. This is similar to the pathophysiology of Lupus.

COVID-19’s pathology is dominated by extreme oxidative stress and neutrophil respiratory burst, to the point where hemoglobin becomes incapable of carrying oxygen due to heme iron being stripped out of heme by hypochlorous acid. No amount of supplemental oxygen can oxygenate blood that chemically refuses to bind O2.

The breakdown of the pathology is as follows:

SARS-CoV-2 Spike binds to ACE2. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 is an enzyme that is part of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, or RAAS. The RAAS is a hormone control system that moderates fluid volume in the body and in the bloodstream (i.e. osmolarity) by controlling salt retention and excretion. This protein, ACE2, is ubiquitous in every part of the body that interfaces with the circulatory system, particularly in vascular endothelial cells and pericytes, brain astrocytes, renal tubules and podocytes, pancreatic islet cells, bile duct and intestinal epithelial cells, and the seminiferous ducts of the testis, all of which SARS-CoV-2 can infect, not just the lungs.

SARS-CoV-2 infects a cell as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike undergoes a conformational change where the S1 trimers flip up and extend, locking onto ACE2 bound to the surface of a cell. TMPRSS2, or transmembrane protease serine 2, comes along and cuts off the heads of the Spike, exposing the S2 stalk-shaped subunit inside. The remainder of the Spike undergoes a conformational change that causes it to unfold like an extension ladder, embedding itself in the cell membrane. Then, it folds back upon itself, pulling the viral membrane and the cell membrane together. The two membranes fuse, with the virus’s proteins migrating out onto the surface of the cell. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid enters the cell, disgorging its genetic material and beginning the viral replication process, hijacking the cell’s own structures to produce more virus.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins embedded in a cell can actually cause human cells to fuse together, forming syncytia/MGCs (multinuclear giant cells). They also have other pathogenic, harmful effects. SARS-CoV- 2’s viroporins, such as its Envelope protein, act as calcium ion channels, introducing calcium into infected cells. The virus suppresses the natural interferon response, resulting in delayed inflammation. SARS-CoV-2 N protein can also directly activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Also, it suppresses the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway. The suppression of ACE2 by binding with Spike causes a buildup of bradykinin that would otherwise be broken down by ACE2.

This constant calcium influx into the cells results in (or is accompanied by) noticeable hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, especially in people with Vitamin D deficiencies and pre-existing endothelial dysfunction. Bradykinin upregulates cAMP, cGMP, COX, and Phospholipase C activity. This results in prostaglandin release and vastly increased intracellular calcium signaling, which promotes highly aggressive ROS release and ATP depletion. NADPH oxidase releases superoxide into the extracellular space. Superoxide radicals react with nitric oxide to form peroxynitrite. Peroxynitrite reacts with the tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor needed by endothelial nitric oxide synthase, destroying it and “uncoupling” the enzymes, causing nitric oxide synthase to synthesize more superoxide instead. This proceeds in a positive feedback loop until nitric oxide bioavailability in the circulatory system is depleted.

Dissolved nitric oxide gas produced constantly by eNOS serves many important functions, but it is also antiviral against SARS-like coronaviruses, preventing the palmitoylation of the viral Spike protein and making it harder for it to bind to host receptors. The loss of NO allows the virus to begin replicating with impunity in the body. Those with endothelial dysfunction (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, obesity, old age, African-American race) have redox equilibrium issues to begin with, giving the virus an advantage.

Due to the extreme cytokine release triggered by these processes, the body summons a great deal of neutrophils and monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages to the lungs. Cells of the innate immune system are the first-line defenders against pathogens. They work by engulfing invaders and trying to attack them with enzymes that produce powerful oxidants, like SOD and MPO. Superoxide dismutase takes superoxide and makes hydrogen peroxide, and myeloperoxidase takes hydrogen peroxide and chlorine ions and makes hypochlorous acid, which is many, many times more reactive than sodium hypochlorite bleach.

Neutrophils have a nasty trick. They can also eject these enzymes into the extracellular space, where they will continuously spit out peroxide and bleach into the bloodstream. This is called neutrophil extracellular trap formation, or, when it becomes pathogenic and counterproductive, NETosis. In severe and critical COVID-19, there is actually rather severe NETosis.

Hypochlorous acid building up in the bloodstream begins to bleach the iron out of heme and compete for O2 binding sites. Red blood cells lose the ability to transport oxygen, causing the sufferer to turn blue in the face. Unliganded iron, hydrogen peroxide, and superoxide in the bloodstream undergo the Haber- Weiss and Fenton reactions, producing extremely reactive hydroxyl radicals that violently strip electrons from surrounding fats and DNA, oxidizing them severely.

This condition is not unknown to medical science. The actual name for all of this is acute sepsis.

We know this is happening in COVID-19 because people who have died of the disease have noticeable ferroptosis signatures in their tissues, as well as various other oxidative stress markers such as nitrotyrosine, 4-HNE, and malondialdehyde.

When you intubate someone with this condition, you are setting off a free radical bomb by supplying the cells with O2. It’s a catch-22, because we need oxygen to make Adenosine Triphosphate (that is, to live), but O2 is also the precursor of all these damaging radicals that lead to lipid peroxidation.

The correct treatment for severe COVID-19 related sepsis is non-invasive ventilation, steroids, and antioxidant infusions. Most of the drugs repurposed for COVID-19 that show any benefit whatsoever in rescuing critically-ill COVID-19 patients are antioxidants. N-acetylcysteine, melatonin, fluvoxamine, budesonide, famotidine, cimetidine, and ranitidine are all antioxidants. Indomethacin prevents iron- driven oxidation of arachidonic acid to isoprostanes. There are powerful antioxidants such as apocynin that have not even been tested on COVID-19 patients yet which could defang neutrophils, prevent lipid peroxidation, restore endothelial health, and restore oxygenation to the tissues.

Scientists who know anything about pulmonary neutrophilia, ARDS, and redox biology have known or surmised much of this since March 2020. In April 2020, Swiss scientists confirmed that COVID-19 was a vascular endotheliitis. By late 2020, experts had already concluded that COVID-19 causes a form of viral sepsis. They also know that sepsis can be effectively treated with antioxidants. None of this information is particularly new, and yet, for the most part, it has not been acted upon. Doctors continue to use damaging intubation techniques with high PEEP settings despite high lung compliance and poor oxygenation, killing an untold number of critically ill patients with medical malpractice.

Because of the way they are constructed, Randomized Control Trials will never show any benefit for any antiviral against COVID-19. Not Remdesivir, not Kaletra, not HCQ, and not Ivermectin. The reason for this is simple; for the patients that they have recruited for these studies, such as Oxford’s ludicrous RECOVERY study, the intervention is too late to have any positive effect.

The clinical course of COVID-19 is such that by the time most people seek medical attention for hypoxia, their viral load has already tapered off to almost nothing. If someone is about 10 days post-exposure and has already been symptomatic for five days, there is hardly any virus left in their bodies, only cellular damage and derangement that has initiated a hyperinflammatory response. It is from this group that the clinical trials for antivirals have recruited, pretty much exclusively.

In these trials, they give antivirals to severely ill patients who have no virus in their bodies, only a delayed hyperinflammatory response, and then absurdly claim that antivirals have no utility in treating or preventing COVID-19. These clinical trials do not recruit people who are pre-symptomatic. They do not test pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis.

This is like using a defibrillator to shock only flatline, and then absurdly claiming that defibrillators have no medical utility whatsoever when the patients refuse to rise from the dead. The intervention is too late. These trials for antivirals show systematic, egregious selection bias. They are providing a treatment that is futile to the specific cohort they are enrolling.

India went against the instructions of the WHO and mandated the prophylactic usage of Ivermectin. They have almost completely eradicated COVID-19. The Indian Bar Association of Mumbai has brought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for recommending against the use of Ivermectin.

Ivermectin is not “horse dewormer”. Yes, it is sold in veterinary paste form as a dewormer for animals. It has also been available in pill form for humans for decades, as an antiparasitic drug.

The media have disingenuously claimed that because Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, it has no utility as an antivirus. This is incorrect. Ivermectin has utility as an antiviral. It blocks importin, preventing nuclear import, effectively inhibiting viral access to cell nuclei. Many drugs currently on the market have multiple modes of action. Ivermectin is one such drug. It is both antiparasitic and antiviral.

In Bangladesh, Ivermectin costs $1.80 for an entire 5-day course. Remdesivir, which is toxic to the liver, costs $3,120 for a 5-day course of the drug. Billions of dollars of utterly useless Remdesivir were sold to our governments on the taxpayer’s dime, and it ended up being totally useless for treating hyperinflammatory COVID-19. The media has hardly even covered this at all.

The opposition to the use of generic Ivermectin is not based in science. It is purely financially and politically-motivated. An effective non-vaccine intervention would jeopardize the rushed FDA approval of patented vaccines and medicines for which the pharmaceutical industry stands to rake in billions upon billions of dollars in sales on an ongoing basis.

The majority of the public are scientifically illiterate and cannot grasp what any of this even means, thanks to a pathetic educational system that has miseducated them. You would be lucky to find 1 in 100 people who have even the faintest clue what any of this actually means.

COVID-19 Transmission:

COVID-19 is airborne. The WHO carried water for China by claiming that the virus was only droplet- borne. Our own CDC absurdly claimed that it was mostly transmitted by fomite-to-face contact, which, given its rapid spread from Wuhan to the rest of the world, would have been physically impossible.

The ridiculous belief in fomite-to-face being a primary mode of transmission led to the use of surface disinfection protocols that wasted time, energy, productivity, and disinfectant.

The 6-foot guidelines are absolutely useless. The minimum safe distance to protect oneself from an aerosolized virus is to be 15+ feet away from an infected person, no closer. Realistically, no public transit is safe.

Surgical masks do not protect you from aerosols. The virus is too small and the filter media has too large of gaps to filter it out. They may catch respiratory droplets and keep the virus from being expelled by someone who is sick, but they do not filter a cloud of infectious aerosols if someone were to walk into said cloud.

The minimum level of protection against this virus is quite literally a P100 respirator, a PAPR/CAPR, or a 40mm NATO CBRN respirator, ideally paired with a full-body tyvek or tychem suit, gloves, and booties, with all the holes and gaps taped.

Live SARS-CoV-2 may potentially be detected in sewage outflows, and there may be oral-fecal transmission. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, in the Amoy Gardens incident, hundreds of people were infected by aerosolized fecal matter rising from floor drains in their apartments.

COVID-19 Vaccine Dangers:

The vaccines for COVID-19 are not sterilizing and do not prevent infection or transmission. They are “leaky” vaccines. This means they remove the evolutionary pressure on the virus to become less lethal. It also means that the vaccinated are perfect carriers. In other words, those who are vaccinated are a threat to the unvaccinated, not the other way around.

All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use have undergone minimal testing, with highly accelerated clinical trials. Though they appear to limit severe illness, the long-term safety profile of these vaccines remains unknown.

Some of these so-called “vaccines” utilize an untested new technology that has never been used in vaccines before. Traditional vaccines use weakened or killed virus to stimulate an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines do not. They are purported to consist of an intramuscular shot containing a suspension of lipid nanoparticles filled with messenger RNA. The way they generate an immune response is by fusing with cells in a vaccine recipient’s shoulder, undergoing endocytosis, releasing their mRNA cargo into those cells, and then utilizing the ribosomes in those cells to synthesize modified SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins in-situ.

These modified Spike proteins then migrate to the surface of the cell, where they are anchored in place by a transmembrane domain. The adaptive immune system detects the non-human viral protein being expressed by these cells, and then forms antibodies against that protein. This is purported to confer protection against the virus, by training the adaptive immune system to recognize and produce antibodies against the Spike on the actual virus. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines do something similar, but use an adenovirus vector for genetic material delivery instead of a lipid nanoparticle. These vaccines were produced or validated with the aid of fetal cell lines HEK-293 and PER.C6, which people with certain religious convictions may object strongly to.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike is a highly pathogenic protein on its own. It is impossible to overstate the danger presented by introducing this protein into the human body.

It is claimed by vaccine manufacturers that the vaccine remains in cells in the shoulder, and that SARS- CoV-2 Spike produced and expressed by these cells from the vaccine’s genetic material is harmless and inert, thanks to the insertion of prolines in the Spike sequence to stabilize it in the prefusion conformation, preventing the Spike from becoming active and fusing with other cells. However, a pharmacokinetic study from Japan showed that the lipid nanoparticles and mRNA from the Pfizer vaccine did not stay in the shoulder, and in fact bioaccumulated in many different organs, including the reproductive organs and adrenal glands, meaning that modified Spike is being expressed quite literally all over the place. These lipid nanoparticles may trigger anaphylaxis in an unlucky few, but far more concerning is the unregulated expression of Spike in various somatic cell lines far from the injection site and the unknown consequences of that.

Messenger RNA is normally consumed right after it is produced in the body, being translated into a protein by a ribosome. COVID-19 vaccine mRNA is produced outside the body, long before a ribosome translates it. In the meantime, it could accumulate damage if inadequately preserved. When a ribosome attempts to translate a damaged strand of mRNA, it can become stalled. When this happens, the ribosome becomes useless for translating proteins because it now has a piece of mRNA stuck in it, like a lace card in an old punch card reader. The whole thing has to be cleaned up and new ribosomes synthesized to replace it. In cells with low ribosome turnover, like nerve cells, this can lead to reduced protein synthesis, cytopathic effects, and neuropathies.

Certain proteins, including SARS-CoV-2 Spike, have proteolytic cleavage sites that are basically like little dotted lines that say “cut here”, which attract a living organism’s own proteases (essentially, molecular scissors) to cut them. There is a possibility that S1 may be proteolytically cleaved from S2, causing active S1 to float away into the bloodstream while leaving the S2 “stalk” embedded in the membrane of the cell that expressed the protein.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a Superantigenic region (SAg), which may promote extreme inflammation.

Anti-Spike antibodies were found in one study to function as autoantibodies and attack the body’s own cells. Those who have been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines have developed blood clots, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, and multiple sclerosis flares, indicating that the vaccine promotes autoimmune reactions against healthy tissue.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike does not only bind to ACE2. It was suspected to have regions that bind to basigin, integrins, neuropilin-1, and bacterial lipopolysaccharides as well. SARS-CoV-2 Spike, on its own, can potentially bind any of these things and act as a ligand for them, triggering unspecified and likely highly inflammatory cellular activity.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike contains an unusual PRRA insert that forms a furin cleavage site. Furin is a ubiquitous human protease, making this an ideal property for the Spike to have, giving it a high degree of cell tropism. No wild-type SARS-like coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 possess this feature, making it highly suspicious, and perhaps a sign of human tampering.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a prion-like domain that enhances its infectiousness.

The Spike S1 RBD may bind to heparin-binding proteins and promote amyloid aggregation. In humans, this could lead to Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, premature Alzheimer’s, or various other neurodegenerative diseases. This is very concerning because SARS-CoV-2 S1 is capable of injuring and penetrating the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain. It is also capable of increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to other molecules.

SARS-CoV-2, like other betacoronaviruses, may have Dengue-like ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement of disease. For those who aren’t aware, some viruses, including betacoronaviruses, have a feature called ADE. There is also something called Original Antigenic Sin, which is the observation that the body prefers to produce antibodies based on previously-encountered strains of a virus over newly- encountered ones.

In ADE, antibodies from a previous infection become non-neutralizing due to mutations in the virus’s proteins. These non-neutralizing antibodies then act as trojan horses, allowing live, active virus to be pulled into macrophages through their Fc receptor pathways, allowing the virus to infect immune cells that it would not have been able to infect before. This has been known to happen with Dengue Fever; when someone gets sick with Dengue, recovers, and then contracts a different strain, they can get very, very ill.

If someone is vaccinated with mRNA based on the Spike from the initial Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2, and then they become infected with a future, mutated strain of the virus, they may become severely ill. In other words, it is possible for vaccines to sensitize someone to disease.

There is a precedent for this in recent history. Sanofi’s Dengvaxia vaccine for Dengue failed because it caused immune sensitization in people whose immune systems were Dengue-naive.

In mice immunized against SARS-CoV and challenged with the virus, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, they developed immune sensitization, Th2 immunopathology, and eosinophil infiltration in their lungs.

We have been told that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines cannot be integrated into the human genome, because messenger RNA cannot be turned back into DNA. This is false. There are elements in human cells called LINE-1 retrotransposons, which can indeed integrate mRNA into a human genome by endogenous reverse transcription. Because the mRNA used in the vaccines is stabilized, it hangs around in cells longer, increasing the chances for this to happen. If the gene for SARS-CoV-2 Spike is integrated into a portion of the genome that is not silent and actually expresses a protein, it is possible that people who take this vaccine may continuously express SARS-CoV-2 Spike from their somatic cells for the rest of their lives.

By inoculating people with a vaccine that causes their bodies to produce Spike in-situ, they are being inoculated with a pathogenic protein. A toxin that may cause long-term inflammation, heart problems, and a raised risk of cancers. In the long-term, it may also potentially lead to premature neurodegenerative disease.

Absolutely nobody should be compelled to take this vaccine under any circumstances, and in actual fact, the vaccination campaign must be stopped immediately.

COVID-19 Criminal Conspiracy:

The vaccine and the virus were made by the same people.

In 2014, there was a moratorium on SARS gain-of-function research that lasted until 2017. This research was not halted. Instead, it was outsourced, with the federal grants being laundered through NGOs.

Ralph Baric is a virologist and SARS expert at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. This is who Anthony Fauci was referring to when he insisted, before Congress, that if any gain-of-function research was being conducted, it was being conducted in North Carolina.

This was a lie. Anthony Fauci lied before Congress. A felony.

Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli are colleagues and have co-written papers together. Ralph Baric mentored Shi Zhengli in his gain-of-function manipulation techniques, particularly serial passage, which results in a virus that appears as if it originated naturally. In other words, deniable bioweapons. Serial passage in humanized hACE2 mice may have produced something like SARS-CoV-2.

The funding for the gain-of-function research being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology came from Peter Daszak. Peter Daszak runs an NGO called EcoHealth Alliance. EcoHealth Alliance received millions of dollars in grant money from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (that is, Anthony Fauci), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (part of the US Department of Defense), and the United States Agency for International Development. NIH/NIAID contributed a few million dollars, and DTRA and USAID each contributed tens of millions of dollars towards this research. Altogether, it was over a hundred million dollars.

EcoHealth Alliance subcontracted these grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab in China with a very questionable safety record and poorly trained staff, so that they could conduct gain-of-function research, not in their fancy P4 lab, but in a level-2 lab where technicians wore nothing more sophisticated than perhaps a hairnet, latex gloves, and a surgical mask, instead of the bubble suits used when working with dangerous viruses. Chinese scientists in Wuhan reported being routinely bitten and urinated on by laboratory animals. Why anyone would outsource this dangerous and delicate work to the People’s Republic of China, a country infamous for industrial accidents and massive explosions that have claimed hundreds of lives, is completely beyond me, unless the aim was to start a pandemic on purpose.

In November of 2019, three technicians at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed symptoms consistent with a flu-like illness. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, and Ralph Baric knew at once what had happened, because back channels exist between this laboratory and our scientists and officials.

December 12th, 2019, Ralph Baric signed a Material Transfer Agreement (essentially, an NDA) to receive Coronavirus mRNA vaccine-related materials co-owned by Moderna and NIH. It wasn’t until a whole month later, on January 11th, 2020, that China allegedly sent us the sequence to what would become known as SARS-CoV-2. Moderna claims, rather absurdly, that they developed a working vaccine from this sequence in under 48 hours.

Stephane Bancel, the current CEO of Moderna, was formerly the CEO of bioMerieux, a French multinational corporation specializing in medical diagnostic tech, founded by one Alain Merieux. Alain Merieux was one of the individuals who was instrumental in the construction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s P4 lab.

The sequence given as the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13, is not a real virus. It is a forgery. It was made by entering a gene sequence by hand into a database, to create a cover story for the existence of SARS-CoV-2, which is very likely a gain-of-function chimera produced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was either leaked by accident or intentionally released.

The animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 has never been found.

This is not a conspiracy “theory”. It is an actual criminal conspiracy, in which people connected to the development of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are directly connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and their gain-of-function research by very few degrees of separation, if any. The paper trail is well- established.

The lab-leak theory has been suppressed because pulling that thread leads one to inevitably conclude that there is enough circumstantial evidence to link Moderna, the NIH, the WIV, and both the vaccine and the virus’s creation together. In a sane country, this would have immediately led to the world’s biggest RICO and mass murder case. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, Ralph Baric, Shi Zhengli, and Stephane Bancel, and their accomplices, would have been indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Instead, billions of our tax dollars were awarded to the perpetrators.

The FBI raided Allure Medical in Shelby Township north of Detroit for billing insurance for “fraudulent COVID-19 cures”. The treatment they were using? Intravenous Vitamin C. An antioxidant. Which, as described above, is an entirely valid treatment for COVID-19-induced sepsis, and indeed, is now part of the MATH+ protocol advanced by Dr. Paul E. Marik.

The FDA banned ranitidine (Zantac) due to supposed NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) contamination. Ranitidine is not only an H2 blocker used as antacid, but also has a powerful antioxidant effect, scavenging hydroxyl radicals. This gives it utility in treating COVID-19.

The FDA also attempted to take N-acetylcysteine, a harmless amino acid supplement and antioxidant, off the shelves, compelling Amazon to remove it from their online storefront.

This leaves us with a chilling question: did the FDA knowingly suppress antioxidants useful for treating COVID-19 sepsis as part of a criminal conspiracy against the American public?

The establishment is cooperating with, and facilitating, the worst criminals in human history, and are actively suppressing non-vaccine treatments and therapies in order to compel us to inject these criminals’ products into our bodies. This is absolutely unacceptable.

COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Links to Transhumanism:

This section deals with some more speculative aspects of the pandemic and the medical and scientific establishment’s reaction to it, as well as the disturbing links between scientists involved in vaccine research and scientists whose work involved merging nanotechnology with living cells.

On June 9th, 2020, Charles Lieber, a Harvard nanotechnology researcher with decades of experience, was indicted by the DOJ for fraud. Charles Lieber received millions of dollars in grant money from the US Department of Defense, specifically the military think tanks DARPA, AFOSR, and ONR, as well as NIH and MITRE. His specialty is the use of silicon nanowires in lieu of patch clamp electrodes to monitor and modulate intracellular activity, something he has been working on at Harvard for the past twenty years. He was claimed to have been working on silicon nanowire batteries in China, but none of his colleagues can recall him ever having worked on battery technology in his life; all of his research deals with bionanotechnology, or the blending of nanotech with living cells.

The indictment was over his collaboration with the Wuhan University of Technology. He had double- dipped, against the terms of his DOD grants, and taken money from the PRC’s Thousand Talents plan, a program which the Chinese government uses to bribe Western scientists into sharing proprietary R&D information that can be exploited by the PLA for strategic advantage.

Charles Lieber’s own papers describe the use of silicon nanowires for brain-computer interfaces, or “neural lace” technology. His papers describe how neurons can endocytose whole silicon nanowires or parts of them, monitoring and even modulating neuronal activity.

Charles Lieber was a colleague of Robert Langer. Together, along with Daniel S. Kohane, they worked on a paper describing artificial tissue scaffolds that could be implanted in a human heart to monitor its activity remotely.

Robert Langer, an MIT alumnus and expert in nanotech drug delivery, is one of the co-founders of Moderna. His net worth is now $5.1 billion USD thanks to Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine sales.

Both Charles Lieber and Robert Langer’s bibliographies describe, essentially, techniques for human enhancement, i.e. transhumanism. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum and the architect behind the so-called “Great Reset”, has long spoken of the “blending of biology and machinery” in his books.

Since these revelations, it has come to the attention of independent researchers that the COVID-19 vaccines may contain reduced graphene oxide nanoparticles. Japanese researchers have also found unexplained contaminants in COVID-19 vaccines.

Graphene oxide is an anxiolytic. It has been shown to reduce the anxiety of laboratory mice when injected into their brains. Indeed, given SARS-CoV-2 Spike’s propensity to compromise the blood-brain barrier and increase its permeability, it is the perfect protein for preparing brain tissue for extravasation of nanoparticles from the bloodstream and into the brain. Graphene is also highly conductive and, in some circumstances, paramagnetic.

In 2013, under the Obama administration, DARPA launched the BRAIN Initiative; BRAIN is an acronym for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies®. This program involves the development of brain-computer interface technologies for the military, particularly non-invasive, injectable systems that cause minimal damage to brain tissue when removed. Supposedly, this technology would be used for healing wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, the direct brain control of prosthetic limbs, and even new abilities such as controlling drones with one’s mind.

Various methods have been proposed for achieving this, including optogenetics, magnetogenetics, ultrasound, implanted electrodes, and transcranial electromagnetic stimulation. In all instances, the goal is to obtain read or read-write capability over neurons, either by stimulating and probing them, or by rendering them especially sensitive to stimulation and probing.

However, the notion of the widespread use of BCI technology, such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink device, raises many concerns over privacy and personal autonomy. Reading from neurons is problematic enough on its own. Wireless brain-computer interfaces may interact with current or future wireless GSM infrastructure, creating neurological data security concerns. A hacker or other malicious actor may compromise such networks to obtain people’s brain data, and then exploit it for nefarious purposes.

However, a device capable of writing to human neurons, not just reading from them, presents another, even more serious set of ethical concerns. A BCI that is capable of altering the contents of one’s mind for innocuous purposes, such as projecting a heads-up display onto their brain’s visual center or sending audio into one’s auditory cortex, would also theoretically be capable of altering mood and personality, or perhaps even subjugating someone’s very will, rendering them utterly obedient to authority. This technology would be a tyrant’s wet dream. Imagine soldiers who would shoot their own countrymen without hesitation, or helpless serfs who are satisfied to live in literal dog kennels.

BCIs could be used to unscrupulously alter perceptions of basic things such as emotions and values, changing people’s thresholds of satiety, happiness, anger, disgust, and so forth. This is not inconsequential. Someone’s entire regime of behaviors could be altered by a BCI, including such things as suppressing their appetite or desire for virtually anything on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Anything is possible when you have direct access to someone’s brain and its contents. Someone who is obese could be made to feel disgust at the sight of food. Someone who is involuntarily celibate could have their libido disabled so they don’t even desire sex to begin with. Someone who is racist could be forced to feel delight over cohabiting with people of other races. Someone who is violent could be forced to be meek and submissive. These things might sound good to you if you are a tyrant, but to normal people, the idea of personal autonomy being overridden to such a degree is appalling.

For the wealthy, neural laces would be an unequaled boon, giving them the opportunity to enhance their intelligence with neuroprosthetics (i.e. an “exocortex”), and to deliver irresistible commands directly into the minds of their BCI-augmented servants, even physically or sexually abusive commands that they would normally refuse.

If the vaccine is a method to surreptitiously introduce an injectable BCI into millions of people without their knowledge or consent, then what we are witnessing is the rise of a tyrannical regime unlike anything ever seen before on the face of this planet, one that fully intends to strip every man, woman, and child of our free will.

Our flaws are what make us human. A utopia arrived at by removing people’s free will is not a utopia at all. It is a monomaniacal nightmare. Furthermore, the people who rule over us are Dark Triad types who cannot be trusted with such power. Imagine being beaten and sexually assaulted by a wealthy and powerful psychopath and being forced to smile and laugh over it because your neural lace gives you no choice but to obey your master.

The Elites are forging ahead with this technology without giving people any room to question the social or ethical ramifications, or to establish regulatory frameworks that ensure that our personal agency and autonomy will not be overridden by these devices. They do this because they secretly dream of a future where they can treat you worse than an animal and you cannot even fight back. If this evil plan is allowed to continue, it will spell the end of humanity as we know it.

Conclusions:

The current pandemic was produced and perpetuated by the establishment, through the use of a virus engineered in a PLA-connected Chinese biowarfare laboratory, with the aid of American taxpayer dollars and French expertise.

This research was conducted under the absolutely ridiculous euphemism of “gain-of-function” research, which is supposedly carried out in order to determine which viruses have the highest potential for zoonotic spillover and preemptively vaccinate or guard against them.

Gain-of-function/gain-of-threat research, a.k.a. “Dual-Use Research of Concern”, or DURC, is bioweapon research by another, friendlier-sounding name, simply to avoid the taboo of calling it what it actually is. It has always been bioweapon research. The people who are conducting this research fully understand that they are taking wild pathogens that are not infectious in humans and making them more infectious, often taking grants from military think tanks encouraging them to do so.

These virologists conducting this type of research are enemies of their fellow man, like pyromaniac firefighters. GOF research has never protected anyone from any pandemic. In fact, it has now started one, meaning its utility for preventing pandemics is actually negative. It should have been banned globally, and the lunatics performing it should have been put in straitjackets long ago.

Either through a leak or an intentional release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a deadly SARS strain is now endemic across the globe, after the WHO and CDC and public officials first downplayed the risks, and then intentionally incited a panic and lockdowns that jeopardized people’s health and their livelihoods.

This was then used by the utterly depraved and psychopathic aristocratic class who rule over us as an excuse to coerce people into accepting an injected poison which may be a depopulation agent, a mind control/pacification agent in the form of injectable “smart dust”, or both in one. They believe they can get away with this by weaponizing the social stigma of vaccine refusal. They are incorrect.

Their motives are clear and obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. These megalomaniacs have raided the pension funds of the free world. Wall Street is insolvent and has had an ongoing liquidity crisis since the end of 2019. The aim now is to exert total, full-spectrum physical, mental, and financial control over humanity before we realize just how badly we’ve been extorted by these maniacs.

The pandemic and its response served multiple purposes for the Elite:

  • Concealing a depression brought on by the usurious plunder of our economies conducted by rentier-capitalists and absentee owners who produce absolutely nothing of any value to society whatsoever. Instead of us having a very predictable Occupy Wall Street Part II, the Elites and their stooges got to stand up on television and paint themselves as wise and all-powerful saviors instead of the marauding cabal of despicable land pirates that they are.

  • Destroying small businesses and eroding the middle class.

  • Transferring trillions of dollars of wealth from the American public and into the pockets of billionaires and special interests.

  • Engaging in insider trading, buying stock in biotech companies and shorting brick-and-mortar businesses and travel companies, with the aim of collapsing face-to-face commerce and tourism and replacing it with e-commerce and servitization.

  • Creating a casus belli for war with China, encouraging us to attack them, wasting American lives and treasure and driving us to the brink of nuclear armageddon.

  • Establishing technological and biosecurity frameworks for population control and technocratic- socialist “smart cities” where everyone’s movements are despotically tracked, all in anticipation of widespread automation, joblessness, and food shortages, by using the false guise of a vaccine to compel cooperation.

Any one of these things would constitute a vicious rape of Western society. Taken together, they beggar belief; they are a complete inversion of our most treasured values.

What is the purpose of all of this? One can only speculate as to the perpetrators’ motives, however, we have some theories.

The Elites are trying to pull up the ladder, erase upward mobility for large segments of the population, cull political opponents and other “undesirables”, and put the remainder of humanity on a tight leash, rationing our access to certain goods and services that they have deemed “high-impact”, such as automobile use, tourism, meat consumption, and so on. Naturally, they will continue to have their own luxuries, as part of a strict caste system akin to feudalism.

Why are they doing this? Simple. The Elites are Neo-Malthusians and believe that we are overpopulated and that resource depletion will collapse civilization in a matter of a few short decades. They are not necessarily incorrect in this belief. We are overpopulated, and we are consuming too many resources. However, orchestrating such a gruesome and murderous power grab in response to a looming crisis demonstrates that they have nothing but the utmost contempt for their fellow man.

To those who are participating in this disgusting farce without any understanding of what they are doing, we have one word for you. Stop. You are causing irreparable harm to your country and to your fellow citizens.

To those who may be reading this warning and have full knowledge and understanding of what they are doing and how it will unjustly harm millions of innocent people, we have a few more words.

Damn you to hell. You will not destroy America and the Free World, and you will not have your New World Order. We will make certain of that.

*  *  *

This PDF document contains 14 pages, followed by another 17 pages of references.

For those, please visit the original PDF file at Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 00:00
Published:9/26/2021 11:37:48 PM
[Markets] "They Were Seeing Blood": Bombshell Report Details CIA's 'Kidnap Or Kill' Plans Against WikiLeaks' Assange "They Were Seeing Blood": Bombshell Report Details CIA's 'Kidnap Or Kill' Plans Against WikiLeaks' Assange

A bombshell Yahoo News investigation published Sunday is being called the most important deep-dive exposé in years detailing the lengths the CIA and US national security state went to nab WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he was holed up at the Ecuadoran embassy. US officials were even having meetings discussing possible assassination of the man who exposed so many secrets of American military and clandestine actions abroad.

Dozens of US intelligence officials, including many who had served under the Trump administration, are now confirming the CIA considered "options" for kidnapping and/or assassinating Assange and that plans were mulled over at the highest levels of CIA leadership. "More than 30 former U.S. officials — eight of whom described details of the CIA’s proposals to abduct Assange," are sourced in the report, which further reveals the CIA targeted journalists who worked closely with WikiLeaks, including Glenn Greenwald.

Among the many key new revelations in the report includes that then CIA chief Mike Pompeo was itching for revenge against WikiLeaks and Assange after the "Vault 7" leaks, considered a massive embarrassment to the agency almost without parallel. This began years-running US intelligence "war" on the whistleblower organization publisher of leaked and classified materials, which had the end goal of destroying it and Assange. 

WikiLeaks itself had publicized on multiple occasions reports of its legal and media team being victims of "professional operations" by CIA assets, and even provided surveillance footage of a "grab team" at various points camped outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. We also learn that attempts to tie WikiLeaks to the Russian government was part of a CIA propaganda campaign tied to its 'dirty war' on the media entity.

Here's how the lengthy and stunning investigative report begins:

In 2017, as Julian Assange began his fifth year holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, the CIA plotted to kidnap the WikiLeaks founder, spurring heated debate among Trump administration officials over the legality and practicality of such an operation.

Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request "sketches" or "options" for how to assassinate him. Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official. "There seemed to be no boundaries."

The conversations were part of an unprecedented CIA campaign directed against WikiLeaks and its founder. The agency’s multipronged plans also included extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates, sowing discord among the group’s members, and stealing their electronic devices.

This was during a period of time that then CIA director Mike Pompeo began publicly calling WikiLeaks a "non-state hostile intelligence service" - which the report says was an attempt to introduce legal justification for targeting its members and close journalist associates.

But increasingly the question of 'legality' mattered less and less, as one source cited in the report highlights:

Pompeo and other top agency leaders "were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7," said a former Trump national security official. "They were seeing blood."

Below is a summary thread providing an overview of the full report by journalist Kevin Gosztola, who in the past has provided close coverage of Assange's legal saga from London for Shadowproof (emphasis ours)...

* * *

WikiLeaks' publication of "Vault 7" materials from the CIA was hugely embarrassing. Even though the CIA had increased spying operations against WikiLeaks, they still were surprised the media organization obtained a trove of the agency's extremely sensitive files.

CIA director Mike Pompeo was afraid President Donald Trump would learn about the "Vault 7" materials and think less of him. "Don’t tell him, he doesn’t need to know." But it was too important. Trump had to be informed.

The CIA was already engaged in ramped up operations against Assange and WikiLeaks because the media organization assisted NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. We learn that US intelligence officials lobbied the White House under Obama to redefine WikiLeaks—and high-profile journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras—as "information brokers." This could help CIA argue they were "agents of a foreign power" and valid targets.

"More than 30 former U.S. officials — eight of whom described details of the CIA’s proposals to abduct Assange," were sources for the report. One of these officials professes to lobbying for a redefinition of journalists—a clear attack on principles of press freedom. Pompeo and the CIA seized on a "carveout" to authorize operations against Assange and WikiLeaks over "Vault 7" publication. They'd treat WikiLeaks as a spy service and anything conducted would be "offensive counterintelligence" activity.

Recall, CIA director Mike Pompeo's speech at CSIS, a Washington think tank, where he labeled WikiLeaks "a non-state hostile intelligence service." That was all to fuel a climate for aggressive action targeted against Assange, WikiLeaks staff, and associates. 

The CIA could not prove WikiLeaks was working at the behest of the Russian government. So rather than claim authority to target WikiLeaks that way officials sought to reframe the organization as a "hostile entity." Then it wouldn't matter that they weren't working for Russia.

Here is why I've said for the past couple of years the CIA was out to destroy WikiLeaks. The "hostile entity" designation allowed them to target the media organization for disruption. This is a list of activities they believed they could engage in at any time...

The Yahoo! report appears to confirm Andy Müller-Maguhn, a former spokesman for Chaos Computer Club in Germany and friend of Assange, was targeted for disruption by the CIA. He is a German citizen. A key question is whether German intelligence operatives were aware.

We can now say CIA Director Mike Pompeo wanted to kidnap WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Pompeo wanted to put him on a rendition flight to the United States. The US intelligence operatives UC Global Director David Morales and others referenced worked at the highest levels. Note key detail related to the proposal of kidnapping Assange. Pompeo was not raising a fresh and crazy idea.

"...the notion of kidnapping Assange preceded Pompeo's arrival at Langley..." So under Obama there were meetings where kidnapping Assange was discussed. President Donald Trump reportedly "spitballed" on whether the CIA could kill WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

And "agency executives requested and received 'sketches' of plans for killing Assange and other Europe-based WikiLeaks members with access to Vault 7 materials." John Eisenberg, who was a top lawyer for the National Security Council under Trump, apparently opposed rendering Assange to US without criminal charges. He urged DOJ to accelerate drafting of charges and was concerned Pompeo was freezing out lawyers from Assange discussions.

British government agreed not to drop bail-jumping charge against Assange after Swedish investigation into sexual allegations was dropped in May 2017. This bail-jumping charge helped keep him in Belmarsh during extradition hearing and after prevailed in district court

At the conclusion of the report, it reads: "Spy services are increasingly using a WikiLeaks-like model of posting stolen materials online." Trump administration gave the CIA "aggressive new secret authorities" for hack-and-dump operations.

To sum this all up: The Justice Department was afraid the CIA might kidnap or kill WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. They abandoned any hangup they had over "the New York Times problem" of charging a publisher and drafted an indictment. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 22:30
Published:9/26/2021 9:56:43 PM
[Markets] "Pure Evil!" , "War Criminal!": Crowd Heckles Hillary During Installation As Chancellor Of Irish University "Pure Evil!" , "War Criminal!": Crowd Heckles Hillary During Installation As Chancellor Of Irish University

Hillary Clinton has finally been inaugurated... as the first female chancellor of Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland - but not before she was loudly heckled on the way to her coronation.

As Clinton entered the university, protesters could be heard shouting: "pure evil!:" and "war criminal!" amongst other things, including:

"You’re not welcome in Belfast! Go away, you war criminal scumbag!"

"How many kids have you killed today?"

"imperialist scum"

"Yankee"

Here's the full video posted by Lasair Dhearg, as left-wing socialist republican group.

As the Western Journal notes:

One man who addressed a crowd on the video shared online accused Clinton of being responsible for “over 400 drone strikes across multiple nations which overwhelmingly killed civilians and even children.”

The man also blasted Clinton for labeling black men “superpredators when she helped lobby for the 1994 [U.S. crime bill].”

Appointed in 2020, Clinton spoke at the event for around 15 minutes, during which she suggested that the people of Northern Ireland "work together to resolve their differences over Brexit and dealing with the legacy of past violence."

Clinton, as it stands, voted in favor of the war in Iraq - and as US Secretary of State was instrumental in the Obama administration's decision to bomb Libya, "leaving Libya a failed state and a terrorist haven," according to the New York Times (h/t Daily Caller).  Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, meanwhile, promised in 2010 that he'd stop illegal African migration into Europe for a tidy sum of US$6.3 billion per year. Two months later, he was dead.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/25/2021 - 15:15
Published:9/25/2021 2:24:17 PM
[Markets] Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied To Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme To Co-Opt CIA/FBI To Tar Trump Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied To Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme To Co-Opt CIA/FBI To Tar Trump

Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations.com,

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan figures prominently in a grand jury investigation run by Special Counsel John Durham into an alleged 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign scheme to use both the FBI and CIA to tar Donald Trump as a colluder with Russia, according to people familiar with the criminal probe, which they say has broadened into a conspiracy case.

Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as Clinton campaign adviser for the 2016 election. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File

Sullivan is facing scrutiny, sources say, over potentially false statements he made about his involvement in the effort, which continued after the election and into 2017. As a senior foreign policy adviser to Clinton, Sullivan spearheaded what was known inside her campaign as a “confidential project” to link Trump to the Kremlin through dubious email-server records provided to the agencies, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last week, Michael A. Sussmann, a partner in Perkins Coie, a law firm representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements to the FBI about his clients and their motives behind planting the rumor, at the highest levels of the FBI, of a secret Trump-Russia server. After a months-long investigation, the FBI found no merit to the rumor.

The grand jury indicated in its lengthy indictment that several people were involved in the alleged conspiracy to mislead the FBI and trigger an investigation of the Republican presidential candidate -- including Sullivan, who was described by his campaign position but not identified by name.

The Clinton campaign project, these sources say, also involved compiling a "digital dossier” on several Trump campaign officials – including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Carter Page. This effort exploited highly sensitive, nonpublic Internet data related to their personal email communications and web-browsing, known as Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses.

Alleged targets: Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page. YouTube/CNN/FNC/RCP

To mine the data, the Clinton campaign enlisted a team of Beltway computer contractors as well as university researchers with security clearance who often collaborate with the FBI and the intelligence community. They worked from a five-page campaign document called the "Trump Associates List."

The tech group also pulled logs purportedly from servers for a Russian bank and Trump Tower, and the campaign provided the data to the FBI on two thumb drives, along with three “white papers” that claimed the data indicated the Trump campaign was secretly communicating with Moscow through a server in Trump Tower and the Alfa Bank in Russia. Based on the material, the FBI opened at least one investigation, adding to several others it had already initiated targeting the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016.

Michael Sussmann: Indicted former Clinton campaign lawyer allegedly coordinated with Jake Sullivan on dubious materials provided to the FBI and media. perkinscoie.com

The indictment states that Sussmann, as well as the cyber experts recruited for the operation, "coordinated with representatives and agents of the Clinton campaign with regard to the data and written materials that Sussmann gave to the FBI and the media."

One of those campaign agents was Sullivan, according to emails Durham obtained. On Sept. 15, 2016 – just four days before Sussmann handed off the materials to the FBI – Marc Elias, his law partner and fellow Democratic Party operative, "exchanged emails with the Clinton campaign’s foreign policy adviser concerning the Russian bank allegations," as well as with other top campaign officials, the indictment states.

The sources close to the case confirmed the "foreign policy adviser" referenced by title is Sullivan. They say he was briefed on the development of the opposition-research materials tying Trump to Alfa Bank, and was aware of the participants in the project. These included the Washington opposition-research group Fusion GPS, which worked for the Clinton campaign as a paid agent and helped gather dirt on Alfa Bank and draft the materials Elias discussed with Sullivan, the materials Sussmann would later submit to the FBI. Fusion researchers were in regular contact with both Sussmann and Elias about the project in the summer and fall of 2016. Sullivan also personally met with Elias, who briefed him on Fusion's opposition research, according to the sources.

Sullivan maintained in congressional testimony in December 2017 that he didn’t know of Fusion’s involvement in the Alfa Bank opposition research. In the same closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, he also denied knowing anything about Fusion in 2016 or who was conducting the opposition research for the campaign.

"Marc [Elias] ... would occasionally give us updates on the opposition research they were conducting, but I didn't know what the nature of that effort was – inside effort, outside effort, who was funding it, who was doing it, anything like that," Sullivan stated under oath.

Jake Sullivan's December 2017 House testimony may put him in perjury jeopardy.  House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Sullivan also testified he didn’t know that Perkins Coie, the law firm where Elias and Sussmann were partners, was working for the Clinton campaign until October 2017, when it was reported in the media as part of stories revealing the campaign's contract with Fusion, which also produced the so-called Steele dossier. Sullivan maintained he didn’t even know that the politically prominent Elias worked for Perkins Coie, a well-known Democratic law firm. Major media stories from 2016 routinely identified Elias as "general counsel for the Clinton campaign" and a "partner at Perkins Coie."

"To be honest with you, Marc wears a tremendous number of hats, so I wasn’t sure who he was representing," Sullivan testified.

"I sort of thought he was, you know, just talking to us as, you know, a fellow traveler in this — in this campaign effort."

Although he acknowledged knowing Elias and his partner were marshaling opposition researchers for a campaign project targeting Trump, Sullivan insisted, "They didn’t do something with it." In truth, they used the research to instigate a full-blown investigation at the FBI and seed a number of stories in the Washington media, which Elias discussed in emails.

Marc Elias: Prominent Democrat lawyer allegedly also coordinated with Sullivan. Sullivan would later plead ignorance under oath about Elias's role. Perkins Coie


Lying to Congress is a felony. Though the offense is rarely prosecuted, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller won convictions of two of Trump’s associates on charges of that very offense.

An attorney for Sullivan did not respond to questions, while a spokeswoman for the National Security Council declined comment. After the 2016 election, Sullivan continued to participate in the anti-Trump effort, which enlisted no fewer than three Internet companies and two university computer researchers, who persisted in exploiting nonpublic Internet data to conjure up “derogatory information on Trump" and his associates, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors say the operation ran through at least February 2017, when Sullivan met with another central figure in the plot to plant the anti-Trump smear at the FBI. But now the goal was to compel agents to continue investigating the false rumors in the wake of the election, thereby keeping Trump's presidency under an ethical cloud.

Daniel Jones: One of the lead figures in helping resurrect the Trump-Russia collusion narrative after Trump's election, Jones coordinated with Sullivan in hatching the effort. McCain Institute/YouTube

On Feb. 10, 2017, Sullivan huddled with two Fusion operatives and their partner Daniel Jones, a former FBI analyst and Democratic staffer on the Hill, to hatch the post-election plan to resurrect rumors Trump was a tool of the Kremlin. As RealClearInvestigations first reported, the meeting, which lasted about an hour and took place in a Washington office building, also included former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The group discussed raising money to finance a multimillion-dollar opposition research project headed by Jones to target the new president. In effect, Jones’ operation would replace the Clinton campaign’s operation, continuing the effort to undermine Trump.

It’s not clear if Sussmann attended the Feb. 10 meeting, but he was apparently still involved in the operation, along with his crew of data miners. The day before the meeting attended by Sullivan, Sussmann paid a visit to the CIA’s Langley headquarters to peddle the disinformation about the secret server – this time to top officials there, according to the sources familiar with Durham's investigation. During a roughly 90-minute meeting, Sussmann provided two officials at the intelligence headquarters “updated” documents and data he'd provided the FBI before the election, RealClearInvestigations has learned exclusively.

Then, on March 28, 2017, Jones met with the FBI to pass on supposedly fresh leads he and the cyber researchers had learned about the Alfa Bank server and Trump, and the FBI looked into the new leads after having closed its investigation a month earlier. That same month, FBI Director James Comey publicly announced the bureau was investigating possible “coordination" between Moscow and the newly sworn-in president's campaign.

Despite the renewed push by Jones, the FBI debunked the tip of a nefarious Russian back channel. Agents learned the email server in question wasn’t even controlled by the Trump Organization. "It wasn’t true," Mueller confirmed in 2019 testimony.

It turns out that the supposed “secret server" was housed in the small Pennsylvania town of Lititz, and not  Trump Tower in New York City, and it was operated by a marketing firm based in Florida called Cendyn that routinely blasts out emails promoting multiple hotel chains. Simply put, the third-party server sent spam to Alfa Bank employees who used Trump hotels. The bank had maintained a New York office since 2001.

“The FBI’s investigation revealed that the email server at issue was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization but, rather, had been administrated by a mass-marketing email company that sent advertisements for Trump hotels and hundreds of other clients,” Durham wrote in his indictment.

Nonetheless, Jones and Sullivan kept promoting the canard as true.

Democrat Senators Mark Warner and Ron Wyden: Conduits for TDIP's Trump-Russia material. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

With help from Sullivan and Podesta in 2017, Jones launched a nonprofit group called The Democracy Integrity Project, which raised some $7 million mainly from Silicon Valley tech executives. TDIP hired computer researchers, as well as Fusion opposition researchers and Christopher Steele, the British author of the now-discredited Steele dossier, to “prove” the rumors in the dossier. As they sought new dirt on Trump, they fed their information to media outlets, leading Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee (namely Sens. Mark Warner and Ron Wyden), and the FBI. Jones previously worked on the Senate intelligence panel, which had launched a major investigation of Trump and Russia, and he provided a pipeline of information for the committee, according to the sources.

As RCI first reported, Jones emailed a daily news bulletin known as "TDIP Research" to prominent Beltway journalists to keep the Trump-Russia “collusion” rumor-mill going, including the debunked rumor about the "secret server." Durham has subpoenaed Jones to testify before his grand jury hearing the case, along with computer experts and researchers recruited by Sussmann for the Clinton campaign project, persons close to the investigation said. Attempts to reach Jones for comment were unsuccessful.

In a statement, Durham said his investigation "is ongoing."

Special Counsel John Durham: Lengthy single count "speaking" indictment of Sussmann suggests a broader conspiracy case in the works. AP

Indictments for a single-count process crime such as making a false statement normally run a page or two. But Durham’s filing charging Sussmann spans 27 pages and is packed with detail. FBI veterans say the 40-year prosecutor used the indictment to outline a broader conspiracy case he’s building that invokes several other federal statutes.

"That is what we call a 'speaking indictment,' meaning it is far more detailed than is required for a simple indictment under [federal statute] 1001,” which outlaws making false statements and representations to federal investigators, former assistant FBI Director Chris Swecker said in an interview with RealClearInvestigations.

"It is damning,” he added.

“And I see it as a placeholder for additional indictments, such as government grant and contract fraud, computer intrusion, the Privacy Act and other laws against dissemination of personally identifiable information, and mail fraud and wire fraud – not to mention conspiracy to commit those offenses."

Chris Swecker: The Sussmann indictment "is damning," and "I definitely see more to come," says the ex-top FBI investigator. Miller & Martin

"I definitely see more [indictments] to come,” emphasized Swecker, who knows Durham personally and worked with him on prior investigations. The sources close to the case said former FBI general counsel James Baker, who accepted the sketchy materials from Sussmann and passed them on to agents for investigation, is cooperating with Durham’s investigation, along with former FBI counterintelligence chief Bill Priestap, who has provided prosecutors contemporaneous notes about what led the bureau to open an investigation into the allegations Trump used Alfa Bank as a conduit between his campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin to steal the election.

According to the sources, Durham also has found evidence Sussmann misled the CIA, another front in the scandal being reported here for the first time. In December 2016, the sources say Sussmann phoned the general counsel at the agency and told her the same story about the supposed secret server – at the same time the CIA was compiling a national intelligence report that accused Putin of meddling in the election to help Trump win.

Sussmann told Caroline Krass, then the agency’s top attorney, that he had information that may help her with a review President Obama had ordered of all intelligence related to the election and Russia, known as the Intelligence Community Assessment. The review ended up including an annex with several unfounded and since-debunked allegations against Trump developed by the Clinton campaign.

It’s not clear if the two-page annex, which claimed the allegations were “consistent with the judgments in this assessment,” included the Alfa Bank canard. Before it was made public, several sections had been redacted. But after Sussmann conveyed the information to Krass, an Obama appointee, she told him she would consider it for the intelligence review of Russian interference, which tracks with Sussmann’s 2017 closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. (Krass’ name is blacked out in the declassified transcript, but sources familiar with Sussmann's testimony confirmed that he identified her as his CIA contact.)

Caroline Krass: Michael Sussmann also gave  Trump-Russia material to this CIA lawyer. CIA/Wikipedia

“We’re interested,” said Krass, who left the agency several months later. "We’re doing this review and I’ll speak to someone here.”

It’s not known if Sussmann failed to inform the top CIA lawyer that he was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, as he’s alleged to have done at the FBI. Attempts to reach Krass, who now serves as Biden’s top lawyer at the Pentagon, were unsuccessful.

But in his return trip to the CIA after the election, Sussmann “stated falsely – as he previously had stated to the FBI general counsel – that he was ‘not representing a particular client,’ " according to the Durham indictment, which cites a contemporaneous memo drafted by two agency officials with whom Sussmann met that memorializes their meeting. (The document refers to the CIA by the pseudonym “Agency-2.” Sources confirm Agency-2 is the CIA.)

Remarkably, the CIA did not ask for the source of Sussmann’s walk-in tip, including where he got several data files he gave the agency. The FBI exhibited a similar lack of curiosity when Sussmann told it about the false Trump/Alfa Bank connection.

Attempts to reach Sussmann to get his side to the additional CIA allegations leveled by Durham were unsuccessful. The 57-year-old attorney pleaded not guilty to a single felony count and was released on a $100,000 bond Friday. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

The prominent Washington lawyer quietly resigned from Perkins Coie, which has scrubbed all references to him from its website. And late last month, as rumors of the indictment swirled, the powerhouse law firm divested its entire Political Law Group formerly headed by Marc Elias – who commissioned the Steele dossier. Elias, who worked closely with Sussmann on the Trump-Alfa Bank project, also is no longer employed by the firm.

Jake Sullivan’s Golf Cart Rounds

In late July 2016, during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the CIA picked up Russian chatter about a Clinton foreign policy adviser who was trying to develop allegations to “vilify" Trump. The intercepts said Clinton herself had approved a “plan" to “stir up a scandal” against Trump by tying him to Putin. According to hand-written notes, then-CIA chief John Brennan warned President Obama that Moscow had intercepted information about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump.” That summer, Brennan had personally briefed Democrats, including then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on the Alfa Bank-Trump server rumors, according to congressional reports. Reid fired off a letter to Comey demanding that the FBI do more to investigate Trump's ties to Russia.

During that convention, Sullivan drove a golf cart from one TV-network news tent in the parking lot to another, pitching producers and anchors a story that Trump was conspiring with Putin to steal the election. CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News, as well as Chris Wallace of Fox News, all gave him airtime to spin the Clinton campaign’s unfounded theories. Sullivan also gave off-camera background briefings to reporters.

"We were on a mission," Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri later admitted in a Washington Post column. “We wanted to raise the alarm."

Then, on the eve of the election, Sullivan claimed in a written campaign statement that Trump and the Russians had set up a “secret hotline” through Alfa Bank, and he suggested “federal authorities” were investigating “this direct connection between Trump and Russia.” He portrayed the shocking discovery as the work of independent experts — “computer scientists” — without disclosing their attachment to the campaign.

“This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow,” Sullivan claimed.

Clinton teed up his statement in an Oct. 31, 2016, tweet, which quickly went viral. Also that day, Clinton tweeted, “It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia,” while attaching a meme that read: “Donald Trump has a secret server. It was set up to communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank called Alfa Bank.”

The Clinton campaign played up the bogus Trump-Alfa Bank story on the eve of the 2016 election. Twitter/@HillaryClinton

It’s not immediately apparent if then-Vice President Joe Biden was briefed about the Alfa Bank tale or other Trump-Russia rumors and investigations.

Biden has never been questioned about his own role in the investigation of Trump. However, it was the former vice president who introduced the idea of prosecuting Trump’s national security adviser appointee, Gen. Flynn, under the Logan Act of 1799, a dead-letter statute that prohibits private citizens from interfering in U.S. foreign policy and which hasn’t been used to prosecute anyone in modern times. According to notes taken by then-FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, who attended a Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with Obama and Biden, in which Trump, Flynn and Russia were discussed, Biden raised the idea: “VP: Logan Act,” the notes read.

Although he’s not an attorney, Sullivan has argued in congressional testimony and elsewhere that Flynn violated the Logan Act, raising suspicions he may have put the idea in Biden’s head. Sullivan had advised the vice president before joining the Clinton campaign.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 22:20
Published:9/23/2021 9:38:46 PM
[Markets] Greenwald: A Definitive Account Of The CIA/Media/BigTech Fraud Over Hunter Biden Emails Greenwald: A Definitive Account Of The CIA/Media/BigTech Fraud Over Hunter Biden Emails

Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com, (Watch Glenn's podcast on this fiasco here),

A severe escalation of the war on a free internet and free discourse has taken place over the last twelve months. Numerous examples of brute and dangerous censorship have emerged: the destruction by Big Tech monopolies of Parler at the behest of Democratic politicians at the time that it was the most-downloaded app in the country; the banning of the sitting president from social media; and the increasingly explicit threats from elected officials in the majority party of legal and regulatory reprisals in the event that tech platforms do not censor more in accordance with their demands.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer warns that emails and other documents reported on by The New York Post about Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine and China may be "Russian disinformation,” Oct. 16, 2020.

But the most severe episode of all was the joint campaign — in the weeks before the 2020 election — by the CIA, Big Tech, the liberal wing of the corporate media and the Democratic Party to censor and suppress a series of major reports about then-presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. On October 14 and then October 15, 2020, The New York Post, the nation's oldest newspaper, published two news reports on Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine and China that raised serious questions about his integrity and ethics: specifically whether he and his family were trading on his name and influence to generate profit for themselves. The Post said that the documents were obtained from a laptop left by Joe Biden's son Hunter at a repair shop.

From the start, the evidence of authenticity was overwhelming. The Post published obviously genuine photos of Hunter that were taken from the laptop. Investigations from media outlets found people who had received the emails in real-time and they compared the emails in their possession to the ones in the Post's archive, and they matched word-for-word. One of Hunter's own business associates involved in many of these deals, Tony Bobulinski, confirmed publicly and in interviews that the key emails were genuine and that they referenced Joe Biden's profit participation in one deal being pursued in China. A forensics analyst issued a report concluding the archive had all the earmarks of authenticity. Not even the Bidens denied that the emails were real: something they of course would have done if they had been forged or altered. In sum, as someone who has reported on numerous large archives similar to this one and was faced with the heavy burden of ensuring the documents were genuine before risking one's career and reputation by reporting them, it was clear early on that all the key metrics demonstrated that these documents were real.

Despite all that, former intelligence officials such as Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led a group of dozens of former spooks in issuing a public statement that disseminated an outright lie: namely, that the laptop was "Russian disinformation.” Note that this phrase contains two separate assertions: 1) the documents came from Russia and 2) they are fake ("disinformation"). The intelligence officials admitted in this letter that — in their words — “we do not know if the emails are genuine or not,” and also admitted that “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.Yet it repeatedly insinuated that everyone should nonetheless believe this:

Letter from 60 former intelligence officials about the New York Post reporting, Oct. 19, 2020

But the complete lack of evidence for these claims — that even these career CIA liars acknowledged plagued their assertions — did not stop the corporate media or Big Tech from repeating this lie over and over, and, far worse, using this lie to censor this reporting from the internet. One of the first to spread this lie was the co-queen of Russiagate frauds, Natasha Bertrand, then of Politico and now promoted, because of lies like this, to CNN. “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say,” blared her headline in Politico on October 19, just five days after the Post began its reporting. From there, virtually every media outlet — CNN, NBC News, PBS, Huffington Post, The Intercept, and too many others to count — began completely ignoring the substance of the reporting and instead spread the lie over and over that these documents were the by-product of Russian disinformation.

On October 21 — exactly one week after the Post's first report — The Intercept published a false story under the melodramatic headline “We're Not a Democracy” about these materials from former New York Times reporter James Risen. This propaganda assault masquerading as "news” mindlessly laundered the CIA's lies about the laptop. This is what appeared in this outlet that still claims to do “adversarial” reporting:

Their latest falsehood once again involves Biden, Ukraine, and a laptop mysteriously discovered in a computer repair shop and passed to the New York Post….This week, a group of former intelligence officials issued a letter saying that the Giuliani laptop story has the classic trademarks of Russian disinformation.

Note that even the intelligence officials, who acknowledged they had no evidence to support this claim, were more honest than The Intercept, which omitted that critical admission. Days later, this very same outlet — which I co-founded seven years earlier to be adversarial, not subservient, to evidence-free assertions from the intelligence community, and which was designed to be an antidote to rather than a clone of The New York Times — told me that I could not publish the article I had written about the Biden archive because it did not meet their lofty and rigorous editorial standards: the same lofty and rigorous editorial standards that led to uncritical endorsement of the CIA's lies just days earlier. It was that episode, as Matt Taibbi recounted at the time, that prompted my resignation from the outlet I created in protest of this censorship, in order to report instead only on free speech platforms such as this one.

But the media disinformation about the Post's documents — obviously designed to protect Joe Biden in the lead-up to the election — were not the worst aspect of what happened here. Far worse was the decision by Twitter to prohibit any discussion of this reporting or posting of links to the story both publicly and privately on the platform. Worse still was the immediate announcement by Facebook through its communications executive Andy Stone — a life-long Democratic Party operative — that it would algorithmically suppress the story pending a "fact check” by "Facebook's third-party fact-check partners.” Despite multiple requests from me and others, Facebook never published the results of this alleged fact-check and still refuse to say whether it ever conducted one. Why? Because the documents they blocked millions of Americans from learning about were clearly true and authentic.

As indicated, there was ample proof from the start that these documents were genuine and that the only ones engaged in "disinformation" and lies was this axis of the CIA, corporate media, and Big Tech. Yet the most dispositive proof yet emerged on Tuesday — not from a right-wing news outlet that liberals have been trained to ignore and disbelieve but from one of the most mainstream news institutions in the country.

A young reporter for Politico, Ben Schreckinger, has published a new book entitled "The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power.” To his great credit, he spent months investigating the key documents published by The New York Post and found definitive proof that these emails and related documents are indisputably authentic. His own outlet, Politico, was the first to publish the CIA lie that this was "Russian disinformation,” but on Tuesday — without acknowledging their role in spreading that lie — they summarized Schreckinger's findings this way: the book “finds evidence that some of the purported Hunter Biden laptop material is genuine, including two emails at the center of last October’s controversy.” In his book, the reporter recounts in these passages just some of the extensive work he did to obtain this proof:

A person who corresponded with Hunter in late 2018 confirmed to me the authenticity of an email in the cache. Another person who corresponded with Hunter in January 2019 confirmed the authenticity of a different email exchange with Hunter in the cache. Both of these people spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing fears of being embroiled in a global controversy.

A third person who had independent access to Hunter’s emails confirmed to me that the emails published by the New York Post related to Burisma and the CEFC venture matched the substance of emails Hunter had in fact received. (This person was not in a position to compare the published emails word-for-word to the originals.)

The National Property Board of Sweden, part of the Swedish Finance Ministry, has released correspondence between Hunter and House of Sweden employees to me and to a Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, under the country’s freedom of information law. Emails released by the property board match emails in the cache.

Excerpts from POLITICO reporter Ben Schreckinger's new book: "The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power”, Sept. 2020

 

Given what I regard as the unparalleled gravity of what was done here — widespread media deceit toward millions of American voters in the weeks before a presidential election based on a CIA lie, along with brute censorship of the story by Big Tech — and given that so much of what was done here took place on television, we produced this morning what I regard as the definitive video report of this scandal. I realize this report is longer than the standard video — it is just over an hour — but I really believe that it is vital, particularly with the emergence of this new indisputable proof, to take a comprehensive look at how the intelligence community, in partnership with Big Tech and the corporate media, disseminated massive lies and disinformation, using censorship and other manipulative techniques, to shape the outcome of what was a close election. (We will very shortly institute our new feature of producing transcripts for all videos above ten minutes in length, but I really hope that as many people as can do so will watch this video report).

After observing what they did, I hope and believe you will have a similar reaction to the one I had after spending the day compiling and reporting it all. No matter how much you despise this sector of the corporate media, it is nowhere near close enough to the level of contempt and scorn they deserve. You can watch our video report on my Rumble page or on the player below.

Watch:


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Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 22:40
Published:9/22/2021 9:55:17 PM
[Markets] Biden's Debt Limit Game Of Chicken Biden's Debt Limit Game Of Chicken

By Philip Marey of Rabobank

Summary

  • In October we could see both a government shutdown and a government default if the spending and debt bill approved by the House of Representatives yesterday does not pass the Senate.
  • This is a game of chicken in which the Democrats try to force the Republicans to share the blame for suspending the debt limit in light of the midterm elections in 2022.
  • This stand-off is completely unnecessary and if the Republicans don’t blink, the Democrats can still raise the debt limit and adopt a spending patch through budget reconciliation.
  • However, this will raise the internal pressure in the Democratic Party regarding Biden’s legislative agenda by adding another time constraint.

Introduction: Pelosi is raising the stakes

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would fund the government through December 3, 2021, and suspend the debt limit through December 16, 2022. Note that this would remove the debt limit from the legislative agenda until after the midterm elections on November 8, 2022. There were 220 Democratic votes in favor of the bill, and 211 Republican votes against it. This bill is supported by the Democratic leadership, including President Biden. However, before he can sign this into law, the Senate has to vote on it. This is expected to happen later this week or early next week. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader McConnell said the Republicans will support a clean continuing resolution that includes disaster aid and refugee resettlement funding, but not legislation to raise the debt limit. If the spending and debt bill does not pass the Senate, we could see both a shutdown and a default of the US government in October, a probability that is growing by the day according to the T-Bill market.

Each October, the start of the new fiscal year requires either a spending bill1 or a continuing resolution (a spending patch that does not last the entire fiscal year). If such a measure is not adopted before October 1, the federal government will have to shut down, because the authority to spend money is lacking. The House bill would delay this until after December 3, giving Congress more time to come up with a full fiscal year spending bill. However, if the Senate does not pass it, the government will partially shut down on October 1.

Meanwhile, August 1 saw the return of the debt limit, which had been suspended in 2019. The Treasury is taking extraordinary measures to allow the federal government to keep fulfilling its obligations, but in a September 8 letter to House Speaker Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Yellen indicated that these measures will be depleted sometime “during the month of October.” If the debt limit is not raised before this occurs, the federal government will be in default.

The bipartisan route or via budget reconciliation?

The first observation we would like to make is that the possible standoff that could lead to a government shutdown and default is entirely unnecessary. The Democrats could have chosen to raise the debt limit through budget reconciliation. This would not require a single Republican vote. So keeping it out of budget reconciliation and asking the Republicans for support is a conscious decision by the Democratic leadership. The main reason is that raising the debt ceiling could hurt the Democrats in the midterm elections in 2022, so they prefer sharing the blame with the Republicans by forcing them to support a suspension of the debt limit. In other words, the Democrats have set up a game of chicken to get the Republicans’ fingerprints on the debt limit suspension. The Democrats are counting on business leaders to pressure the Republican Party into avoiding a government default. However, the Republican Party’s relationship with corporate America has suffered in recent years as the party has moved toward economic populism. Of course, Biden only needs 10 Republican votes. However, in August 46 Republican senators signed a letter that they would not raise the debt limit. Hence, at most 54 votes are available, which is not enough.

As long as this spending and debt bill is not approved, the government will partially shut down on October 1 and “during the month of October” the government will no longer be able to meet all its obligations, thus being in default. So Congress has about a week to prevent a government shutdown and at most 5 weeks to avert a government default.

If the Republicans don’t blink

The Republicans have said they won’t raise the debt limit, because the Democrats are trying to pass a $3.5 trillion package through budget reconciliation and passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan earlier this year without any Republican votes. However, President Biden is calling their bluff by attaching the debt limit suspension to a spending patch and a hurricane relief bill. This will make it more difficult for Republicans to explain to the voters that they are going to shoot this down in the Senate. If they do, the federal government will be heading for default in October.

However, if the Republicans don’t blink, the Democrats can still raise the debt limit and adopt a spending patch through budget reconciliation, without a single Republican vote. Of course, this implies an additional deadline on the $3.5 trillion health care, education and climate package. There is already a weaker deadline because Pelosi has promised to bring up the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill for a vote by September 27, which is also a time constraint on the $3.5 trillion package because progressives do not want to pass the infrastructure bill before the health care, education and climate bill. This is the second reason why the Democratic leadership has chosen this confrontational route to a game of chicken: it will give them more time for the $3.5 trillion deal.

In table 1 we have summarized the four deadlines that are coming together in just a few weeks.

The game

If the US government shuts down or even defaults, this is entirely a self-inflicted event. In fact, this can be seen as a three stage game. Pelosi has made the move in the first stage, by choosing to attach debt suspension to the spending patch. If she had put forward a clean CR, the Republicans in the Senate were willing to accept. However, now she is triggering a game of chicken (stage 2) where the Republicans will either stick to their promise not to raise the debt limit or blink.

If they blink, a government shutdown and default will be avoided. If they don’t, the Democrats will have to decide whether to shut down the government and risk a default or raise the debt limit through budget reconciliation (stage 3).

In the final stage of the game, the Democrats have the power to raise the debt ceiling and adopt a spending patch, through budget reconciliation, without any Republican vote. Therefore it will be difficult to blame a government shutdown or even a default on the Republicans. The mainstream media may try to do so anyway, but conservative media – which are relevant to Republican voters – will explain the realities to their audience. Therefore, there is no electoral need for the Republicans to blink. If they have the stomach for it, they can win this game and force the Democrats to “own” their spending spree. What’s more, if the Democrats fail to stick together under pressure, Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda could dissolve in October.

By forcing the debt limit legislation into the budget reconciliation process the Republicans will also increase the internal pressure in the Democratic Party regarding the Biden agenda, by adding another time constraint on the $3.5 trillion plan and the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. This is also an incentive for the Democrats to keep the debt limit out of budget reconciliation. From this perspective, we could draw the conclusion that the internal divisions in the Democratic Party are contributing to the choice of the Democratic leadership to play a game of chicken on the debt ceiling that could result in a government default. However, this plan could very well backfire and force the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling through budget reconciliation. The main challenge will then be to keep the Democratic Party together on the $3.5 trillion package, which could very well result in a substantial reduction of that number.

Conclusion

We could have called this special report “McConnell’s Game of Chicken.” After all, in August 46 Republican senators signed a letter that they would not raise the debt limit. However, the Democrats don’t need Republican support to adopt a spending patch and raise the debt limit: it can all be done through budget reconciliation. However, the Democrats made a conscious decision to take the bipartisan route, a route they usually shun. But they don’t want to be seen as the party that raised the debt limit and rather share the blame of suspending it, in light of the midterm elections in 2022. This appears particularly weird since the Democrats want to get a $3.5 trillion package through budget reconciliation, without the need of Republican votes. So the Democrats want to go on a spending spree, but they don’t want to be seen as the party that raises the credit card limit.

This is why we call it “Biden’s Game of Chicken.” At first sight it would appear that the Republicans are up to their old tricks again of sabotaging Democratic policies through the debt limit, jeopardizing the reputation of US government debt. However, this is not a repeat of the Tea Party obstruction of the Obama administration. This time the Democrats are intentionally looking for a confrontation they can easily avoid. In fact, McConnell has already indicated that he would support a clean CR, without a debt limit suspension attached to it. The Democrats won the elections, they want to spend trillions on Democratic priorities without Republican support, and they can raise the debt limit in the same process.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 19:20
Published:9/22/2021 6:25:53 PM
[Media] Netflix Acquires Prominent Anti-Semite’s Estate, Announces Epic Content Dump

Netflix, a media conglomerate with ties to former president Barack Obama, announced on Wednesday its acquisition of British author Roald Dahl's estate and promised to produce "a unique universe across animated and live action films and TV, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theatre, consumer products and more."

The post Netflix Acquires Prominent Anti-Semite’s Estate, Announces Epic Content Dump appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/22/2021 5:57:31 PM
[Markets] US & Israel Restart Secret 'Plan B' Talks On Iran As Alternative To Nuke Deal US & Israel Restart Secret 'Plan B' Talks On Iran As Alternative To Nuke Deal

During their respective addresses to the UN General Assembly meeting this week, Biden and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi both expressed a desire to continue talks focused on the restoration of the JCPOA nuclear agreement in Vienna. This even as Raisi blasted the "hegemonic United States" and its nation-building efforts abroad in places like Iraq and Afghanistan as having "failed miserably". 

On Wednesday Axios has revealed that secret talks between top Israeli officials and the White House have resumed, which are focused on putting in place "plan B" actions should nuclear talks fail to resume. The talks are said to be between Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart Eyal Hulata.

"This is the first time a top-secret U.S.-Israel strategic working group on Iran has convened since the new Israeli government took office in June," Axios notes.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, AFP via Getty Images

In August Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz had hinted at the plans, which weren't initially confirmed by the US side. Sounding threatening and ominous in statements which was a thinly veiled threat at military action, Gantz said at the time:

"The United States and Israel share intelligence information, and the cooperation with the United States in this field is only getting stronger. We are working with them in order to establish a Plan B and to demonstrate that if there is no deal, other activities will begin..."

When Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was hosted for the first time at the White House in late August, both sides confirmed they would resume the secretive sessions, focused on intelligence planning and 'alternate' scenarios to jointly pursue of nuclear talks fail.

Going all the way back to Obama and into the Trump administration, the working group was seen as part of covert strategy cooperation between Washington and Tel Aviv to bring pressure to bear on Tehran. Axios details:

  • It was the main venue for strategizing over how to apply pressure on Iran during Obama’s first term, and it became the primary setting to air disagreements about the nuclear deal during Obama’s second term.
  • During Donald Trump's tenure, the forum convened to discuss the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and to coordinate the "maximum pressure" campaign.

Indeed during the Trump administration Israel carried out some incredibly brazen covert attacks inside the Islamic Republic...

Under Trump it's believed the working group implemented much more aggressive plans for acts of covert espionage against Iran's nuclear program, leading to instances of sabotage against the Natanz nuclear facility (and likely others), which disabled it for at least months.

But while Trump employed increasingly war-like rhetoric against the Iranians, which escalated to the January 2020 drone assassination of IRGC Quds force chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Biden has expressed a desire to avoid a war-footing with yet another Middle East country, instead holding out hope for restoring the JPOA deal brokered under Obama. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 18:20
Published:9/22/2021 5:26:21 PM
[] Biden Is Busing Haitian Immigrants from the Much-Watched Del Rio Bridge to Other Border Points, Which Are Not Being Filmed -- And Then Releasing Them to Disappear Into America Remember how Obama lied to the country to impose de facto open borders? He did this by getting his open borders allies to call him "The Deporter in Chief." This was supposedly an insult. Actually, it was arranged cover. Obama... Published:9/22/2021 12:30:47 PM
[Culture] How Racial Anxiety Conquered an Orchestra and Crushed a Career

Most people haven’t heard of James Zimmermann, but most have heard him. A decorated musician with a long string of acoustic accolades, Zimmermann, 39, has made the sound of his clarinet difficult to avoid. He played at President Barack Obama’s second inaugural, has recorded tracks for best-selling video games, and helped create Walt Disney World’s new theme.

The post How Racial Anxiety Conquered an Orchestra and Crushed a Career appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/22/2021 4:21:54 AM
[Markets] AUKUS Expedites The Coming EU Army & NATO's Irrelevance AUKUS Expedites The Coming EU Army & NATO's Irrelevance

Authored by Joaquin Flores via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

While AUKUS formally exists to counter China, it does so on the basis of shared history and spheres of influence. That means that the logic of containing China within such a framework also contains AUKUS.

The surprise announcement of the new AUKUS alliance has predictably provoked an outcry from the European side of NATO, in particular France whose $90B plans with Australia were nixed without forewarning or mutual agreement. The entire fiasco only pushed the realization of a European continental army further along its path, a path that is all but inevitable and can only be either slowed or hurried by world events and political pressures.

As we wrote towards the end of August in ‘NATO’s Obsolescence’, the NATO alliance is coming undone and what we are seeing internationally is the rise of multipolarity. Distinct from the yearnings of idealists, multipolarity does not necessitate, (nor does it exclude), that the rising global blocs operate in some symphonic harmony towards global peace. But there is a kernel of truth: because it implies a change away from often violent attempts to build a one-world system based on the wildest fantasies of the Western banking establishment (popularly referred to as the ‘New World Order’), it creates an opportunity for harmony, as multipolarity rests upon spheres of influence and mutual recognition of sovereign hegemony.

AUKUS represents the failure of the Trans-Atlantic order rising after WWII (and emboldened by the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact) to transform into this ‘New World Order’ in the sense of a unipolar American century. But the solidifying of the U.S., UK, and Australia into something like AUKUS is also an entirely coherent development of the Five Eyes (UKUSA/FVEY) into something more.

East Room of the White House, September 15, 2021, in Washington, D.C. President Biden delivered his remarks to present “AUKUS,”.WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

It further underscores how much Biden’s foreign policy sits in line with Trump’s. AUKUS tends to confirm that for reasons still not entirely known (but which engender fantastical theories), Trump’s foreign policy on EU, China, and Five Eyes carries on into the Biden administration.

Not everyone is on board. The intelligence relationship already existing between A5 countries known as the Five Eyes has been challenged by the push to be decisive on China where previously it was clearer on the USSR – something where regarding China, New Zealand and Canada have decided to take a more nuanced and balanced approach.

In short, we see Obama allies Trudeau and Ardern push-back against the Biden administration’s move to forge AUKUS. Ardern went so far as to say that Australian nuclear subs per the AUKUS alliance, will not be allowed in New Zealand’s waters. Recall that Chinese naval vessels have been allowed to dock in New Zealand’s waters as recently as 2019. As far as Trudeau appears to be positioned, Canada’s Global News reported, “Brett Bruen, a consultant and former U.S. diplomat, told The Canadian Press that Canada may want to keep its distance from the pact to avoid aggravating existing tensions with China.

The ugly economic details of AUKUS have left France and NATO countries with the realization that the U.S. has sent a much larger signal than that particularly problematic $90B detail would indicate. The U.S. under Trump had been shifting its strategic emphasis away from realistically deflecting a Russian military intervention into Western Europe as NATO existed originally to do. Rhetoric and a few additionally planned exercises aside, this has not changed under the Biden administration. Trump’s efforts to push forward on burden shifting from the U.S. to NATO members in Europe in the form of a 2% of GDP commitment on military spending is not one that Biden will roll back, despite his administration’s formal commitment to rebuild U.S.-EU strategic commitments apparently undermined by the 45th presidential administration. These developments, and more, have left France and Germany certain that an EU Army is a realistic security solution in the face of an unreliable U.S.

The Coming EU Army

When the UK left the EU on January 31st 2020 it removed a major obstacle to the building a continental army for Europe. Revealingly, the political forces campaigning on behalf of Brexit argued that the future of the EU would work against the special relationship that the UK has with the U.S. But why should this be the case, when the EU and U.S. are staunch allies, and since NATO is the child of this alliance?

The answer to that question subverts expectations, and this is what makes it so worthy of our attention. The inclusion of the UK in the EU has always been a source and reflection of conflict between the UK and the continent. The persistence of the pound sterling and its precise position to the later development of the Euro, probably made Brexit a rather positive outcome for Europeanists among the long-term EU strategists at the very top, despite the entire Brussels bureaucracy and the EU media structure batting for Atlanticism through public declarations and electoral interference. After all, like any organization of scale, there are competing visions and competing commitments. The best way to change the alignment of these is to change the facts on the ground and the departure of the UK from the EU was a monumental one

So many things then become possible with the UK out of the EU, like an EU Army.

© Flickr / Rock Cohen

Yet if NATO represents the keystone for security in Europe, then what need is there for an EU Army? The answer to this one is not pretty, because it directly confronts the definition of ‘security’, and more decidedly poses the question: Whose security does NATO actually represent?

Indeed, the Euroscepticism which understandably had become the majority view in Britain by 2016, was not only opposed to the balance of matters effecting the UK the EU as it existed, but also the direction of things to come and the moves to further centralize and empower the Brussels bureaucracy in ways unacceptable.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Eurosceptics oppose the further centralization of the EU as it would give rise to an EU Army, and would either be a ‘final blow’ to the sovereignty of European states or act as a rapid catalyst towards the same.

The debate over the utility and necessity of a European Army is a difficult one to follow, because there is one side – the EU Army side – which really can’t say the quiet part out loud.

And the quiet part is that NATO in Europe functions more like an occupying force that relies on indigenous enforcers, its command structure being effectively a comprador one. Because of that, the EU Army side of this debate has had to make specious claims that it would work in tandem with NATO, would not replace NATO, and would even strengthen NATO. All of these are ridiculous when unpacked, but as necessary to say as Biden’s anachronistic and demonstrably false statements that the U.S. holds NATO Article 5 as a “sacred commitment”. Turkish forces fighting U.S. advisors embedded with the U.S.-backed YPG would be surprised to hear that Article 5 was still relevant. As with the case of the Greece-Turkey strategic stand-off, the question arises again.

When Merkel blasted Obama’s NSA in 2013 for spying on Germany, the quiet part was audible. But it would have been untoward to have publicly teased out the logical deduction any reasonable person would make from this.

And this in itself represents a self-consciousness of the weaker and more difficult to articulate position. Not because the logic can’t be made clearer, but because the truth of it all – that multipolarity means that the EU and U.S. may not have the same strategic interests – threatens the entire post-WWII order of things.

The pretext of course for the need for NATO is the existence of a Russian Federation existing as a single geopolitical entity, and not as an additional dozen states carved out of Russia’s existing oblasts, which is the openly professed fantasy of NATO’s media-intelligence wing, the Atlantic Council. Prizes have been awarded by Atlantic Council-supported ACTR to university students who developed schemes, maps, and socio-economy and political data towards the division of Russia into ten or so more states.

But even as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg bemoaned on June 15 of this year that the NATO-Russia relationship, “is at its lowest point since the Cold War, and Moscow’s aggressive actions are a threat to our security.“, this is pure theatrics. It would be surprising if any leader of a European state believed this was really the case, knowing instead that the present state of EU-RF relations is the consequence of hyperventilating problems into existence.

For many decades, the encroachment of the EU and NATO into Central and Eastern Europe were seen as one and the same. But in reality, NATO represented itself as the military enforcer of Trans-Atlanticism and trilateralism in Europe. This meant that an expanding EU was permissible within the strict rubric of also being advantageous to Trans-Atlantic banking in the form of the IMF, which acts like a tax or tithing upon European capital paid towards the City of London and Wall Street and ensuring that the Eurodollar – one of the parents of today’s EURO – was reliant on the Petrodollar as the reserve currency.

Conclusion

While France cries foul in defense of its own arms industry, certainly the brains behind Macron sees the rise of AUKUS as both a tremendous opportunity and pretext to justify the Franco-German agenda already in play.

Liberal-idealist opposition to the creation of an EU Army seems to stem from some alternate reality where each European state doesn’t already possess an armed force. They argue as if foreign aggression upon the EU will be invited and not, as logic would inform us, be discouraged by the existence of a coherent and singular command structure such as the EU Army presents. There is a failure to understand that a disunited Europe invites any number of great powers to be able to play divide and conquer in and between European states, to the detriment of all European states.

The primary and sacrosanct raison d’etre for the EU in the first place is to avoid the sorts of wars between European states which twice destroyed Europe in the 20th century, which led to the strategic advantage of the U.S. as a global hegemon.

To wit, E.H Carr’s work exposed that for nearly three hundred years (writing from the 1940’s), the foreign policy of England (in its various iterations) was to divide continental European power by pursuing policies which created conflicts between Germany and France. Likewise, we see no small role in the financial schemes of the U.S. and England that led to both European conflicts in the 20th century.

And so in looking at costs, of course always left out is the ‘cost of not’. The focus on costs of such a European Army fails to understand the relationship that the EU is in today with regard to the U.S. dollar. The EU must frame its expenditures in budgetary terms precisely because of the Atlanticist financial scheme, where the U.S. can create money at whim but the EU must operate within the rubric of monetary scarcity.

So in thinking that the U.S. is presently paying for European security, what is ignored is a macroscopic view which accounts for opportunity cost, profit sharing, and liabilities that arise. The U.S. role in European security, as we have said, is to secure U.S. interests in Europe.

Euroscepticism, a genus with numerous species, opposes the rise of an EU Army as mentioned, but not only in the UK. Across the EU, the thinking and rationale is – at face value – the same. But beneath the surface, as E.H Carr would likely agree, is a quite opposite dynamic.

Nationalist Euroscepticism has been the most potent force, with other species whose skepticism is rooted in other matters often tagging along. The critical point here is that the more radical the nationalist Euroscepticism, the more likely it is that skeptic views positively a confederal type arrangement between European states on the basis of identity and shared history. They often paint their own alternate solution wherein European states are in some kind of organization that rings nearly identical to the EU itself, (“a single Europe of a hundred banners”), with some notable exceptions such as the financial structures in the EU in the form of the Troika.

And that is the solution: the rise of an EU Army would also be able to support financial independence of the EU from the U.S.-UK financial grip. A truly sovereign EU would also have sovereign financial institutions, which today it lacks. And it is precisely the contemporary financial arrangement that inspires nationalist-driven Euroscepticism. It is only this that could make the EU into the kind of confederation that nationalist Eurosceptics would find acceptable, even desirable.

AUKUS likewise is based on a common historical relationship to Britain, and while oceans still separate the member states, the alliance represents a turn to doctrines descended from spheres of influence as opposed to the universalist values schema which defined the now failed gambit to realize Trans-Atlanticism into a permanent unipolarity.

Both AUKUS and the rise of an EU Army are manifestations of a growing multipolarity, and could be critical to stability and a decrease in the hostilities presently driven by the global ambitions of Atlanticism. While AUKUS formally exists to counter China, it does so on the basis of shared history and spheres of influence. That means that the logic of containing China within such a framework also contains AUKUS. Civilizational spheres such as an Anglo-sphere, or a Eurosphere, or like China (which by itself is a civilization) all set clear borders of legitimacy. This is entirely at odds with the disastrous attempt to build a single world order on the basis of abstract and universal values, dictated from an imperial center.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 02:00
Published:9/22/2021 1:20:32 AM
[Markets] Air Force Secretary Says His Priorities Are "China, China, And China" Air Force Secretary Says His Priorities Are "China, China, And China"

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

On Monday, President Biden’s new Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall made it crystal clear that China is his main focus during a speech at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference. According to an Air Force press release, Kendall mentioned China 27 times in his remarks compared to a single mention of Russia.

"So what are my intentions now that I have this job? At a breakfast on Capitol Hill shortly after I was sworn in, I was asked by Sen. Jon Tester what my priorities were. My answer was that I had three: China, China, and China," Kendall said.

Frank Kendall III, US Air Force image

Kendall, who assumed office on August 28th, said China is a threat to Washington’s global military dominance. "While America is still the dominant military power on the planet today, we are being more effectively challenged militarily than at any other time in our history," he said.

To counter China, Kendall wants to focus on military modernization. He’s previously said he wants the US to develop weapons that would "scare" China. As part of his modernization plan, Kendall wants to retire older military aircraft and focus on developing new ones.

"We will not succeed against a well-resourced and strategic competitor if we insist on keeping every legacy system we have," he said. "Our one team cannot win its one fight to deter China or Russia without the resources we need and a willingness to balance risk today to avoid much greater risk in the future."

Kendall served in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2017 as the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. Before that, he worked as the Vice President of Engineering for Raytheon, a company with a keen interest in hyping up the threat of China to justify more military spending.

Kendall said since 2010, he’s been "pounding the drum about how serious a threat" China is to Washington’s ability to "project power" in Asia.

Kendall’s view is not unique among military leaders in Washington. During Senate confirmation hearings in July, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro vowed to focus "exclusively" on the so-called "China threat." The Pentagon has also identified China as the top "pacing threat" facing the US military.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 00:05
Published:9/21/2021 11:22:30 PM
[Afghanistan] Did Biden’s political needs lead to tragically mistaken drone strike? (Paul Mirengoff) Unintentional killings of innocent civilians are an unfortunate but inevitable occurrence in sustained wars. The wars associated with our attempt to curb terrorism seem particularly prone to producing such killings by American forces. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the wars fought under Presidents Bush (43) and Obama resulted in U.S. forces unintentionally killing innocent civilians. This might well have been the case under President Trump too, despite the Published:9/21/2021 6:26:19 PM
[Markets] Kadish: Is It Puppeteers Or Puppets In Control In Washington? Kadish: Is It Puppeteers Or Puppets In Control In Washington?

Authored by Lawrence Kadish via The Gatestone Institute,

It must be the best of times and the worst of times for our nation's enemies.

On one hand they have a President in the White House whose actions are reducing America into some befuddled and diminished world power.

On the other hand our foes are trying to figure out, as are all Americans, who is actually in charge in Washington?

Is it a shadow government of consultants, lobbyists, and Obama retreads?

Or is it really a president who counts success as getting to the presidential helicopter unassisted?

One can envision the intelligence chiefs of our sworn enemies being sternly lectured by their supreme leaders to get to the bottom of it because they can't believe their good fortune that American leadership has fallen so far so fast. It must be a devious trap.

If only that were true.

It is understandable our foes sense a unique moment in history. Under Biden, America now has a national debt that rivals a Black Hole. Our unemployment numbers refuse to go down, suggesting deep fissures in our economy. Our southern border remains more a suggestion than a checkpoint. And our allies see a nation that has casually condemned to death untold numbers of Afghans who fervently believed in America until they saw our last C-17 depart Kabul.

What all of this might suggest is that there are individuals in Washington who are wielding enormous power without worrying about what Joe Biden might think or do because whatever they decide, it is Biden who will take the fall. If true, it has the makings of a nightmare situation.

And yet there is another scenario that is equally chilling.

What if Biden is not the tool of those behind the throne? What if he has cut the cord of puppet strings and is "dancing" freely? What if he is pursuing policies and initiatives far removed from those who thought they could direct the actions of a President whose cognitive behavior has been seriously questioned?

So pity our poor enemies. They do not know who to bribe, intimidate, or co-opt.

And then pity America -- for whether we tell Joe "it's time to go" or "straighten up and fly right," we appear to be trapped by a Washington power elite intent on consigning our future to oblivion.

In the end, it will be up to the American electorate to halt this slide as they consider who to send to Congress in the next election cycle.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/18/2021 - 23:30
Published:9/18/2021 10:33:08 PM
[Markets] Taibbi: Does America Hate The "Poorly Educated"? Taibbi: Does America Hate The "Poorly Educated"?

Authored by Matt Taibbi via TK News,

It was impossible to mistake the tone of Joe Biden’s announcement of a vaccine mandate last week. It was an angry speech, which started by explaining that “many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated,” and went on to announce that “our patience is wearing thin,” and “your refusal has cost all of us.” Biden, not normally one for oratorial effects, even conveyed a sense of barely contained rage by muttering, “Get vaccinated!” as he walked off the stage.

“Enjoying the angry Dad vibes from this Biden speech,” came the cheerful comment of former Justice Department spokesman and MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller:

Who’d attracted Biden’s anger — the unvaccinated — was clear. The why was more confusing. The president decried how “the unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals… leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatitis or cancer,” a legitimate enough point. But after reassuring those who’d “done their part” that just “one out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized” this summer, Biden nonetheless explained that “a distinct minority of Americans” is “causing unvaccinated people to die.” He added: “We’re going to protect the vaccinated from unvaccinated co-workers.”

As many noted, the statements were contradictory. If the vaccine really is that effective, the overwhelming consequences of of any failure to get vaccinated will be borne by the unvaccinated themselves. But Biden’s speech was as much about directing anger as policy. The mandate was an extraordinary step, but Biden’s unique — and uniquely strange — rhetorical setup, which framed the decision as a way to stop “them” from doing “damage” and killing “us,” was just as big a story.

The arrival of Covid-19 has exacerbated a troubling divide that’s been growing in America for decades, and is elucidated at length in Michael Sandel’s recent The Tyranny of Merit. The book tells a politically unsettling story about meritocracy in America, one that runs counter to prevailing narratives on both the left and the right. Though mention of Covid-19 is limited to a few paragraphs in a new prologue, the pandemic in many ways has become the ultimate test case of Sandel’s thesis: that we Americans have been so conditioned to believe that winners deserve to win that we’ve found ways to hate losers of any kind as moral failures, even when life is at stake, and especially when lack of education is seen as a factor.

It’s not remotely the same kind of book, but The Tyranny of Merit does follow up on themes in Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism. Lasch’s late seventies premise described American society devolved into a ceaseless all-against-all competition on all fronts, from the professional to the physical to the social and sexual and beyond. Moreover, Lasch wrote, if the original “American dream” was imbued with at least some vague ideas that success should be tied to virtues like thrift, discipline, and wisdom, by the disco age “the pursuit of wealth lost the few shreds of moral meaning.”

In the time since Lasch’s iconic treatise, though, relentless messaging campaigns emanating from both sides of the political aisle re-emphasized the idea that material success was tied to moral character. Ronald Reagan evangelized the idea that poverty was mostly a deserved state, and government at most owed those who weren’t to blame for their own problems. When Bill Clinton came along, he took Reagan’s finger-wagging moralizing and re-cast it in the cheery new technocratic language of global capitalism. “We must do what America does best,” Clinton said at his inauguration. “Offer more opportunity to all and demand more responsibility from all.”

Clinton’s formula was really Yin to Reagan’s Yang: in a world that offered more “opportunity,” there was now even less excuse for failure. We forget, because the pre-9/11 world seems so long ago, but Clinton-era editorialists spent much of the late nineties hyping the opportunity gospel. We were told a combination of the Internet and an increasingly integrated international economy created vast new worlds of material possibility, for those willing to “fill the unforgiving minute” and run the race. “If globalization were a sport,” wrote an exultant Thomas Friedman in 1999, “it would be the 100-yard dash, over and over and over. And no matter how many times you win, you have to race again the next day.”

Onetime labor parties paradoxically were the biggest boosters of the new hyper-competitive global economy, whose central feature was forcing Western workers to face off against masses of laborers in China, South Asia, Mexico, and other places where political rights were, shall we say, less of a priority. As the stress on former blue-collar workers intensified, politicians often sold the public on the idea that higher learning was their Golden Ticket out of the miseries of debt, higher medical costs, and especially social immobility.

By the time Barack Obama came along, it was axiomatic among the cosmopolitan set that anyone with enough ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy should be able to get ahead. Sandel amusingly points out that Obama often culled from a Sly and the Family Stone song in describing his vision of modern American capitalism, using the phrase “You can make it if you try” 140 times during his presidency:

The explosive and uncomfortable message at the heart of The Tyranny of Meritocracy is the idea that the resulting political divide is now less about ideology than education. Sandel deserves credit for taking on a subject that almost no one in high society wants to hear about, let alone those in the academic world. Forget red versus blue: he shows the real gulf is between those who have diplomas, and those who don’t. The subtext is that people with the right degrees deserve to be rich, and have health insurance, and good schooling for their kids, and dignified work, while those who threw away their books after high school deserve failure, in the same way smokers deserve lung disease — especially if they make unsanctioned political choices.

This is an excerpt from today’s subscriber-only post. To read the entire article and get full access to the archives, you can subscribe for $5 a month or $50 a year.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/18/2021 - 19:30
Published:9/18/2021 6:57:30 PM
[Markets] Obama Publicly Endorses Justin Trudeau Ahead Of Canada's Upcoming Election Obama Publicly Endorses Justin Trudeau Ahead Of Canada's Upcoming Election

For all the hustle and bustle about interfering in foreign elections we have heard over the last 5 years, no one seemed to notice or care that Former President Barack Obama publicly endorsed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of the country's upcoming election.

Calling Trudeau his "friend", Obama said that the Prime Minister has been an effective leader and strong voice for democratic values, and I'm proud of the work we did together."

Obama wished him the "best in Canada's upcoming election".

It marks the second time that Obama has endorsed Trudeau: he also made a similar endorsement in 2019. 

"I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as President," Obama said in 2019. "He's a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change. The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term."

Obama also publicly endorsed President of France Emmanuel Macron during his campaign against Marine Le Pen.

Obama said in 2017: “I’m not planning on getting involved in too many elections now that I don't have to run for office again."

Canada's election is less than a week away.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/17/2021 - 18:40
Published:9/17/2021 5:56:29 PM
[Markets] Bin Laden's Former Right-Hand Man Has Resurfaced. Does It Matter? Bin Laden's Former Right-Hand Man Has Resurfaced. Does It Matter?

Authored by Ken Silva via The Epoch Times,

A recently released video suggests that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri may still be alive.

Some national security experts have downplayed that development due to Zawahiri’s apparent lack of charisma and leadership abilities; others have pointed out that al-Qaeda has flourished - even garnering U.S. support in some conflicts - over the past decade under Osama bin Laden’s former chief lieutenant.

Following bin Laden’s death in 2011, many celebrated the occasion as a win on two fronts: Not only did the United States bring bin Laden to justice, it also delivered al-Qaeda to the seemingly less effective Zawahiri.

A Rand Corporation analysis from Sept. 11, 2001, explains that line of thinking, positing that U.S. officials have made Zawahiri a low priority due to his ineptitude.

“The U.S. government has been relatively blasé about al-Qaeda since Zawahiri took over in 2011,” analysts Colin P. Clarke and Asfandyar Mir wrote for Rand in 2020.

“Some terrorism analysts even claim a living Zawahiri has done more harm to al-Qaeda than a dead one ever could.”

Similar sentiments were expressed following the Sept. 11 release of a video featuring Zawahiri—a video that disproves reports from 2020 that the al-Qaeda chief was dead.

“I bet you a large sum of money that Zawahiri’s outdated recording has been watched and engaged by more Jihadism watchers than by jihadis and sympathizers,” said journalist Hassan I. Hassan, who inaccurately reported Zawahiri’s death in November 2020.

“Takeaways from al-Qaeda’s al-Sahab release today: … Zawahiri is still deadly boring,” Middle East Institute senior fellow Charles Lister wrote.

“Beyond that, not much else of note—AQC remains peripheral to AQ globally.”

But despite Zawahiri’s seeming lack of charisma, others have argued that he has been an effective killer with the blood of thousands—including the victims of 9/11—on his hands. In their analysis for Rand in September 2020, Clarke and Mir also explained how the 70-year-old Egyptian helped al-Qaeda survive throughout the past decade, as the United States focused on other groups such as ISIS.

“Zawahiri, for example, is averse to state-building—a stance that shielded al-Qaeda and provided the group with relative respite as the Islamic State became a more immediate target of U.S. counterterrorism efforts,” they wrote.

“As U.S. strikes against the Islamic State intensified, the cohesion of al-Qaeda’s affiliates and its allies improved.”

Not only has Zawahiri’s relatively low profile helped al-Qaeda evade destruction, but the United States has even lent help to so-called moderate Zawahiri loyalists in Syria and Yemen.

In Syria, the Obama administration funneled arms starting in 2012 to al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra in support of the failed attempt to oust the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

That support prompted then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ponder during a 2012 interview with a CBS News reporter: “We know al-Qaeda—Zawahiri—is supporting the opposition in Syria. Are we supporting al-Qaeda in Syria?”

A Somali security soldier points his weapon at a poster bearing a photo of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri during an anti-al-Shabab rally in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Feb. 23, 2014. (Abdifitah Hashi Nor/AFP via Getty Images)

A 2015 article in Foreign Affairs—the publication of the Council on Foreign Relations—made the case for why the United States should back al-Qaeda.

“The instability in the Middle East following the Arab revolutions and the meteoric rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) require that Washington rethink its policy toward al-Qaeda, particularly its targeting of Zawahiri,” the Foreign Affairs article “Accepting al-Qaeda” reads.

“Destabilizing al-Qaeda at this time may in fact work against U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS.”

However, AntiWar.com editorial director Scott Horton argues that support for Zawahiri loyalists is treasonous, and has contributed toward the continued instability in the region.

“Many of these same [Zawahiri loyalists] had helped the Sunni-based insurgency kill 4,000 out of the 4,500 U.S. troops who died in Iraq War II,” Horton wrote in his 2021 book “Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.”

Horton also dismissed the argument that al-Qaeda is preferable to ISIS.

“Tell that to the survivors of the thousands of American civilian and military victims murdered by these terrorists in the last 30 years,” he wrote.

Horton noted that U.S. support for al-Qaeda fighters continues to this day because the country is selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, which, in turn, is arming al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the ongoing Yemeni civil war.

“In a very real sense, Presidents Obama and Trump [and now Biden] have again put the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and special operations forces at war in the service of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri,” Horton wrote in “Enough Already.”

Officials are speculating where Zawahiri may be now.

George McMillan, a security contractor who worked on intelligence and surveillance issues in Afghanistan, told The Epoch Times that Zawahiri is likely hiding in western Pakistan—an assessment shared by many national security experts. McMillan explained that Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, has long provided refuge to jihadists in an attempt to court them as allies against India.

“Zawahiri probably still plays a figurehead role in that,” McMillan said.

In recent weeks, Zawahiri may have slipped into Afghanistan in the wake of the United States’ withdrawal, according to former CIA Acting Director Michael Morrell.

“We think so, which means that the Taliban is harboring Zawahiri today,” Morrell said on Sept. 12 in response to a question on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The Taliban is harboring al-Qaeda today. And I think that’s a very important point.”

Horton said he thinks it’s disingenuous that U.S. officials are lamenting the Taliban’s tolerance of al-Qaeda veterans when they still support Zawahiri loyalists in Yemen.

“I don’t [want to] hear about ‘safe havens’ [in Afghanistan] from people who back al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen and Syria,” Horton told The Epoch Times in a July interview.

The FBI has had Zawahiri on its most-wanted list since he was indicted for his alleged role in the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya—offering up to $25 million for information that leads to the terrorist leader’s apprehension.

The FBI declined to comment when contacted by The Epoch Times about Zawahiri’s apparent reemergence.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/16/2021 - 23:10
Published:9/16/2021 10:14:19 PM
[Markets] The Masking Of The Servant Class: Ugly COVID Images From The Met Gala Are Now Commonplace The Masking Of The Servant Class: Ugly COVID Images From The Met Gala Are Now Commonplace

Authored by Glenn Greenwld via greenwald.substack.com,

From the start of the pandemic, political elites have been repeatedly caught exempting themselves from the restrictive rules they impose on the lives of those over whom they rule. Governors, mayors, ministers and Speakers of the House have been filmed violating their own COVID protocols in order to dine with their closest lobbyist-friends, enjoy a coddled hair styling in chic salons, or unwind after signing new lockdown and quarantine orders by sneaking away for a weekend getaway with the family. The trend became so widespread that ABC News gathered all the examples under the headline “Elected officials slammed for hypocrisy for not following own COVID-19 advice,” while Business Insider in May updated the reporting with this: “14 prominent Democrats stand accused of hypocrisy for ignoring COVID-19 restrictions they're urging their constituents to obey."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), appears at the 2021 Met Gala maskless in her highly fashionable and subversive gown, as masked workers and servants surround her, ensuring her safety and a smoothly running party, on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/GC Images)

Most of those transgressions were too flagrant to ignore and thus produced some degree of scandal and resentment for the political officials granting themselves such license. Dominant liberal culture is, if nothing else, fiercely rule-abiding: they get very upset when they see anyone defying decrees from authorities, even if the rule-breaker is the official who promulgated the directives for everyone else. Photos released last November of California Governor Gavin Newsom giggling maskless as he sat with other maskless state health officials celebrating the birthday of a powerful lobbyist — just one month after he told the public to “to keep your mask on in between bites” and while severe state-imposed restrictions were in place regarding leaving one's home — caused a drop in popularity and helped fueled a recall initiative against him. Newsom and these other officials broke their own rules, and even among liberals who venerate their leaders as celebrities, rule-breaking is frowned upon.

But as is so often the case, the most disturbing aspects of elite behavior are found not in what they have prohibited but rather in what they have decided is permissible. When it comes to mask mandates, it is now commonplace to see two distinct classes of people: those who remain maskless as they are served, and those they employ as their servants who must have their faces covered at all times. Prior to the COVID pandemic, it was difficult to imagine how the enormous chasm between the lives of cultural and political elites and everyone else could be made any larger, yet the pandemic generated a new form of crude cultural segregation: a series of protocols which ensure that maskless elites need not ever cast eyes upon the faces of their servant class.

Last month, a delightful event was hosted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for wealthy Democratic donors in Napa — the same wine region of choice for Gov. Newsom's notorious dinner party — at which the cheapest tickets were $100 each and a "chair” designation was available for $29,000. Video of the outdoor festivities showed an overwhelmingly white crowd of rich Democratic donors sitting maskless virtually on top of one another — not an iota of social distancing to be found — as Pelosi imparted her deep wisdom about public policy.

Pelosi's donor gala took place as millions face eviction, ongoing joblessness, and ever-emerging mandates of various types. It was also held just five days after the liberal county government of Los Angeles, in the name of Delta, imposed a countywide mask requirement for "major outdoor events.” In nearby San Francisco, where Pelosi's mansion is found, the liberal-run city government has maintained a more restrictive outdoor mask policy than the CDC: though masks were not required for outdoor exercising (such as jogging) or while consuming food, the city's rules for outdoor events required “that at any gathering where there are more than 300 people, masks are still required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.” Though Pelosi's fundraising lunch fell below the 10,000-person threshold for LA County's outdoor mask mandate, it may have fallen within San Francisco's mask mandate. Either way, it appears arbitrary at best: how would The Science™ of COVID risk have drastically changed for those sitting with no distancing, at densely packed tables, if there had been a few more tables of Pelosi donors? The CDC's latest guidelines for outdoor events urge people to “consider wearing a mask…for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.”

Trying to find a cogent scientific rationale for any of this is, by design, virtually impossible. The rules are sufficiently convoluted and often arbitrary that one can easily mount arguments to legally justify the Versailles-like conduct of one's favorite liberal political leaders. Beyond the legalities, everything one does can be simultaneously declared to be responsible or reckless, depending on the political needs of the moment. But what was most striking about Pelosi's donor event was not the possibility of legal infractions but rather the two-tiered system that was so viscerally and uncomfortably obvious.

Even though many of the wealthy white donors had no food in front of them and were not yet eating, there was not a mask in sight — except on the faces of the overwhelmingly non-white people hired as servants, all of whom had their gratuitous faces covered. Servants, apparently, are much more pleasant when they are dehumanized. There is no need for noses or mouths or other identifiable facial features for those who are converted into servile robots.

Similar scenes were visible at the even more opulent birthday bash which former President Barack Obama threw for himself to commemorate his 60 years on the planet. Held at his sprawling $12 million weekend estate on Martha's Vineyard, Obama and 400 of his closest maskless friends spent hours in indoor tents dancing, chatting in close circles, and yelling in each other's ears over the live music. While custom-made masks engraved with Obama's renowned humility were provided to the guests (“44×60”), only the servants were reported to have worn masks. Who can throw a Hawaiian luau-themed party at one of the country's wealthiest retreats in the middle of a pandemic and joblessness crisis while wearing disfiguring masks, however chic and carefully hand-crafted they might be?

Discussing the controversy over Obama's lavish party on CNN, New York Times reporter Annie Karni explained that while some of the former president's neighbors found the party objectionable on the grounds of health and/or optics, many adamantly argued that such concerns were applicable only to ordinary people, not the more advanced and evolved species likely to be invited to such an extravagant and exclusive liberal party. Karni described this prevailing mentality with vivid accuracy:

[The controversy] is really being overblown. They’re following all the safety requirements. People are going to sporting events that are bigger than this. This is going to be safe. This is a sophisticated, vaccinated crowd and this is just about optics. It’s not about safety.

An avalanche of similarly repugnant imagery poured forth on Monday night at the most gluttonous and opulent royal court spectacle of them all: the annual Met Gala held by long-time Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Town and Country has lamented that the once-elevated-and-dignified event has become quite gauche ever since it became overrun by cultural celebrities and nouveau riche tycoons -- “these days, the gala is a highly commercialized, celebrity-driven media circus that celebrates sensationalist preening by individuals who couldn’t be less interested in the museum.” Yet despite this degradation, the magazine nonetheless still regards the affair as “the fashion and society event of the year.” In 2014, Wintour complained that the event was insufficiently exclusive and raised the ticket prices to $25,000 per person in order to keep out the riff-raff who had been able to get in the prior year for the middling price of $15,000 per ticket. Tickets this year cost as much as $35,000 per person. It is, pronounced Wintour's Vogue this week, “the fashion world equivalent of the Oscars.”

While event organizers, in an act of noble self-sacrifice and social duty, sadly cancelled the gala in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wintour was determined this year not to let unpleasant matters like overflowing ICU wards, ongoing school closures, looming mass evictions, and pervasive mask mandates ruin the immense enjoyment bequeathed to the world's serfs as they watch their beloved bejeweled class pose in designer gowns. Following Pelosi and Obama's examples, a long list of America's most glittering stars bravely risked exposure to a deadly virus by appearing without masks, all to ensure that Americans would never again be deprived of such a richly gratifying moment for them. Co-chaired by Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka, honorary chairs included Tom Ford, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, and Wintour herself.

Much of the attention on Monday night was devoted to the appearance on the red carpet by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The usual horde of embittered online nay-sayers and envious party-poopers tried implying that there was something incongruous about a socialist politician gleefully participating in the most vulgar tribute to capitalism and social inequality to emerge since the walled-off galas thrown by the French aristocracy at the Palace of Versailles. Some petty, resentful critics even suggested that AOC's latest star turn somehow illustrated what Shant Mesrobian has disparagingly described as “the Squad’s brand of highly educated, professional-class cultural leftism,” which "now offers elected officials a path to fame and pop culture status that circumvents much of the old, hand-dirtying business of politics,” pursuant to which "elected office itself has become merely a stepping stone to social media celebrity” and “maintaining a social media influencer empire rivals, or even surpasses, the priority of being a successful legislator."

Fortunately, many of AOC's most devoted socialist supporters stepped forth with passionate defenses of their leader. As they pointed out, AOC had painted onto the back of her pristine white gown — in perfectly proportioned and tastefully scrolled red ink highlighting the stunning virtues of the designer dress' silhouette -- a leftist phrase, Tax the Rich, that not only assaulted the Biden-supporting liberal celebrities in attendance but made them feel endangered in their own habitat, as if their wealth and privilege were being imperiled not from afar but from one of their own, from within. Far from being what AOC's dirty and petty critics tried to malign this as being — an attention-seeking, celebrity-building, branding opportunity in which AOC yet again lavished herself in the multi-pronged rewards of the very economic and cultural hierarchies she claims to despise and vows to combat -- she was actually engaged in a revolutionary and subversive act, injecting into aristocratic circles a beautifully artistic yet hostile message.

This was not, contrary to the grievances of her small-minded and jealous critics, AOC reveling in one of Louis XVI's court festivities. Instead, she was storming the Bastille: not with weapons or fire but with the graceful designer elegance of the insurgent Marxist renegade, which made her presence all the more deceptively disruptive. While it may have appeared that Vogue's perfectly-coiffed red-carpet correspondents and other Met luminaries were gushing with admiration and awe at her bold fashion statement, they were actually shaking with fear over what AOC had wrought. They were quivering with rage and fear, not swooning with delight as it appeared.

Besides, as AOC herself put it with her trademarked class consciousness, the very fact that she can attend the Met Gala while you cannot is proof of the potency of the left-wing movement she leads. Standing next to Aurora James, the designer of her dress, AOC revealed the underlying clandestine strategy of her subversive attendance: “We really started having a conversation about what it means to be a working class woman of color at the Met ... we can’t just play along, but we need to break the fourth wall.”

In a separate exposition, AOC explained that her appearance at the Met Gala was such a watershed moment for working-class politics because it is vital that she not be confined to dreary poor and lower-middle class venues when spreading her fist-raising rebellion. Instead, she must endure the burden of carrying her cause to the world's richest and most privileged elite and the exclusive salons they occupy. Imagine being so unimaginative and myopic as to be unable to recognize and be grateful for AOC's inventive praxis.

The jealousy-driven attacks on AOC by her cultural inferiors were almost certainly driven by various forms of white supremacy, misogyny and colonialism, as AOC said of those who criticized her in 2018 for wearing an expensive designer dress (“women like me aren’t supposed to run for office”) as well as when she denounced the dismissive and condescending attitudes toward the Squad from Nancy Pelosi (“Nancy Pelosi has been ‘singling out’ freshman congresswomen of color”). Worse, Monday night's traumatic bullying of AOC obscured the far more important fact that, yet again, we saw elites prancing around in the middle of a pandemic maskless, while those paid hourly wages to serve them or desperately try to snap a photo of them were required to keep their pointless faces covered with cloth at all times.

Jennifer Hudson, maskless, attends The 2021 Met Gala, attended to by masked servants, on September 13, 2021 in New York City, as masked paparazzi look on (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

COVID rules are now so convoluted that liberals are able to defend their leaders’ actions while not even pretending to make sense from a scientific or rational perspective. Many defended Newsom and Obama's maskless partying on the ground that it was all “outdoors,” even though both were actually inside tents and people had been shamed for months for taking their kids to deserted beaches rather than keeping them locked away at home. Liberals argue that it is fine for elites at Obama's party and the Met Gala to remain maskless since they are vaccinated, even as they defend the CDC's new mask directives for vaccinated people based on the view that vaccinated people still dangerously transmit the Delta variant to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike. They will claim that it is fine for rich Democratic donors at Pelosi's party to sit on top of one other maskless because they are eating even though the video shows they have no food in front of them (they are waiting for the masked servants of color to bring their food) and even though shoveling food into one's open mouth does not actually create a wall of immunity against transmission of the virus from one's open-mouthed table neighbors. The Met Gala's red carpet is said to be “outdoors” even though it is surrounded by tent walls and other structures, and still leaving the question of why workers need to be masked in the same area.

But all of this stopped being about The Science™ long ago — ever since months of relentless messaging that it is our moral duty to Stay At Home unless we want to sociopathically kill Grandma was replaced overnight by dictates that we had a moral duty to leave our homes to attend densely packed street protests since the racism being protested was a more severe threat to the public health than the global COVID pandemic. One can locate in all of this jumbled and always-shifting rationale various forms of control, shaming, stigma and hierarchy, while The Science™ is nowhere to be found.

Maskless stars Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes attend the 2021 Met Gala while masked paparazzi look on, on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/GC Images)

Even with all of this deceit and manipulation, there is something uniquely disturbing — creepy even — about becoming accustomed to seeing political and cultural elites wallowing in luxury without masks, while those paid small wages to serve them in various ways are forced to keep cloth over their faces. It is a powerful symbol of the growing rot at the core of America's cultural and social balkanization: a maskless elite attended to by a permanently faceless servant class. The country's workers have long been faceless in a figurative sense, and now, thanks to extremely selective application of decisively unscientific COVID restrictions, that condition has become literal.


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Tyler Durden Tue, 09/14/2021 - 22:25
Published:9/14/2021 9:32:22 PM
[] 'Does it involve drones?': Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas to be honorary co-chairs of effort to help Afghan refugees Published:9/14/2021 4:28:26 PM
[Markets] Obama CIA Director Says Biden Afghanistan Calamity Has "Absolutely Inspired Jihadists All Over The World" Obama CIA Director Says Biden Afghanistan Calamity Has "Absolutely Inspired Jihadists All Over The World"

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Appearing on CBS News Sunday, the former CIA Director under Obama, while Biden was Vice President, admitted that the contemptuous actions of the now president in Afghanistan has injected new inspiration into terrorists all over the globe.

“I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world,” Michael Morell said on Face The Nation.

He added that the calamitous exit from the country means “there’s a celebration going on.”

“The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever,” Morell urged.

“I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central,” he continued.

“We are more at risk, without a doubt," Morell concluded.

Watch:

Morell’s comments come as Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted there is STILL a hostage situation going on with Americans now being held the Mazar-i-Sharif Airport in northern Afghanistan for over ten days:

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Tue, 09/14/2021 - 12:40
Published:9/14/2021 11:53:12 AM
[Markets] Biden Allies Sour On Taxing Rich As House Dems Eye SALT Cap Handout Biden Allies Sour On Taxing Rich As House Dems Eye SALT Cap Handout

As progressive lawmakers push President Biden to jack taxes on the rich, some of his top Democratic allies have begun to push back.

To wit, the House Ways and Means Committee has scaled back 'some of the most ambitious elements' of the Biden administration's economic blueprint ahead of a Tuesday vote, according to Bloomberg, adding that the changes "reflect the political reality of a Senate that requires moderate Democrats to vote en masse for the final package, given the razor thin margins of the party’s control of the chamber."

Biden’s move to tax rich families on inherited assets at the time of transfer -- ending the so-called step-up in basis measure -- is absent from the House plan unveiled Monday. His top capital gains tax rate of 39.6% gets weakened to 25%. There is a 3% surtax on incomes exceeding $5 million, but the principle of bringing levies on investments more into line with wage-earners’ incomes is eroded.

While Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden hinted at addressing step-up in basis, such a gesture faces opposition from moderate Democrats in the upper chamber. Farm-state lawmakers have voiced particular concern about doing away with tax-free transfers of inherited assets, even though family farms were specifically marked out as an exception by Biden. -Bloomberg

"The biggest area where it falls short compared to Biden is changing the capital gains tax base, which is key to making sure billionaires pay taxes on those gains and making sure those gains don’t go un-taxed entirely," said former Obama tax policy adviser, Seth Hanlon. "There is still this hole in the tax code that allows wealthy people to avoid taxes on their gains entirely."

Biden's so-called 'Build Back Better' plan was launched in part to enact his promise to roll back Trump tax cuts from 2017, which preceded record-breaking economic growth and unemployment in the American economy, particularly among minorities.

Progressives, however, say the tax rollbacks don't go far enough.

Opposition to the tax hikes is strong among Democrats in the farming community - which is currently exempt from taxation for farms passed down to heirs, and only taxes gains when a property is sold or stops being operated by the family.

Even though Biden’s plan to eliminate step-up in basis included exemptions, opposition from groups including the National Corn Growers Association has been vocal. The administration’s package exempted from taxation any family business or farm passed down to heirs and would tax the increase in the value of the business or property only when it is sold, or stops being run by the family. Biden’s plan also exempts the first $2.5 million in gains from family farms from taxation.

One outside coalition, run by former Heidi Heitkamp, a former Democrat senator from North Dakota, argues that the proposed tax changes would still hit ordinary Americans like farmers or those who run smaller family businesses. She said the Biden proposal has generated deep skepticism among farm owners and rural business owners who fear the provision would erode land values or that the exemptions could later be weakened.

“When you think about this in the long run, is the revenue that would be raised commensurate with the political liability you’re taking on?” Heitkamp said in an interview. “To think there is no political liability, that may be true in downtown Queens, but it’s not true in states like North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, in rural districts, in swing districts.” -Bloomberg

Recall that the Democrats' entire $3.5 trillion economic blueprint is doomed if they can't convince moderate Democrats - such as Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) to sign off.

SALT handout

While the Biden administration continues to advertise their tax plans as an assault on the rich, and only the rich, House Democrats are eyeing a handout for the rich with a two-year repeal of the SALT cap.

The cap, implemented by the GOP in 2017, limits the federal deduction for state and local taxes to $10,000.

According to senior Ways and Means Committee Democrat Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, the SALT cap rollback is one of the "main considerations" before the body.

"There's no final decision," he said, however. "It's a working project."

The SALT cap discussions come as lawmakers from high-tax states (California and New York in particular) threatened Speaker Nancy Pelosi over support for other parts of Biden's economic agenda unless the deduction cap is eliminated or at least modified.

The Ways and Means committee did not include a specific strategy for the SALT deduction in its tax plan released Monday to help pay for Biden’s agenda. But Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts joined Pascrell and Tom Suozzi of New York in releasing a statement that the SALT cap would be addressed in the legislative process later on.

The committee on Tuesday was meeting to finalize details of the bill, intending to send that to the House Budget Committee by Wednesday. -Bloomberg

Two years ago, Suozzi sponsored legislation attempting to double the cap to $20,000 for married couples filing jointly, and then temporarily repeal it altogether for two years for people making less than $100 million per year.

According to the report, restoring the full SALT deduction would cost the US Treasury $88.7 billion in 2021 alone, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. A repeal lasting multiple years would of course mean considerably more.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/14/2021 - 12:20
Published:9/14/2021 11:25:17 AM
[Markets] Prepare For A Bad Decade At The Border Prepare For A Bad Decade At The Border

Submitted by Princeton Policy Advisors

Apprehensions at the US southwest border track US job openings. And that means trouble is brewing.

Jobs and Apprehensions

As readers know, Customs and Border Protection reports southwest border apprehensions monthly. Readers may be less familiar with JOLTS, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, a monthly assessment of the US job market published since late 1999 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor.

Border apprehensions closely track JOLTS job openings. A quick tour through the historical data is enlightening.

The previous peak for border apprehensions occurred during the hot economy of the dot-com boom in 2000, and apprehensions thereafter followed job openings down, bottoming in 2002 with the subsequent recession. The recovery from the dot-com bust brought more jobs and more migrants, with apprehensions interestingly peaking in 2005 with the US real estate market and declining precipitously thereafter. Indeed, border apprehensions were an earlier indicator than US job openings of the severe recession which took hold in late 2007.

With the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, apprehensions continued to decline and collapsed to levels not seen since the late 1970s. They remained depressed until 2018.

The Obama administration faced a small surge at the border in 2014, but managed to regain control over illegal entries by the end of that year. The border saw yet another surge in the months prior to Trump's inauguration, with migrants accelerating their US crossings for fear of more difficult border conditions once Trump took office. Trump's harsh rhetoric did in fact intimidate migrants into delaying their journeys north, with the result that 2017 border apprehensions were the lowest since the early 1970s. Action did not match words, however, and migrants soon came to appreciate the Trump administration as something of a paper tiger. Border traffic rebounded, culminating in another crisis starting in July 2018 and peaking in May 2019. During this period, the Trump administration undertook a series of measures to induce Mexican and Northern Triangle governments to curtail migrant movement and implemented the much-loathed Migrant Protection Protocols. These reduced apprehensions to more typical levels by the end of 2019, even though the US job market remained strong.

The covid pandemic saw both job openings and border traffic crater. By this past spring, however, US job openings were headed into record territory and border apprehensions were keeping pace, likely to reach all-time highs this calendar year.

The history of the last twenty years strongly suggests that migrants respond to US labor market conditions, both good and bad. Migrants are not driven principally by domestic hardship, as both CIS and I have shown. Rather, when US wages are strong and jobs are plenty, Central Americans head north. The strange and yet inescapable conclusion is that US and Latin American labor markets are to an extent integrated. Guatemala and Honduras may be exotic places in the American imagination, but Central Americans are no strangers to working in the US. The US is not exotic, it's where the jobs are. Therefore, illegal Central Americans and Mexicans may be considered an integral part of the US labor force, a 'subprime' part perhaps, but nevertheless a part of it. This is quite remarkable given that crossing the border is ostensibly illegal. The migrant response to US job openings should not be so dynamic. But it is, and we see a healthy market as though the border were mostly an inconvenience, that is, we see a robust black market in migrant labor finding its way around border enforcement with comparative ease.

Of course, US administrations have successfully limited illegal border crossings in recent years. As noted above, the Obama administration suppressed a smaller surge during 2014; the 'Trump intimidation' brought near record low crossings in 2017; and the various harsh Trump policies from July 2018 managed to restore order by the end of 2019. While all of these worked for a time and to an extent, traffic inevitably picked up if jobs were waiting.

The Biden administration has managed to be both unlucky and inept, a combination not limited to border policy. The administration relaxed border enforcement straight into the teeth of the hottest job market in at least twenty years, with the likely result a record in border apprehensions for the year. The high number of border crossings is partly, but not entirely, due to administration policy. Be that as it may, the Biden administration will carry the blame, in this as in other matters.

The Outlook for Illegal Immigration

In some ways, the more pressing issue is the outlook for future border crossings. Just a few years ago, our friends at some of the think tanks assured us that the threat of massive surges in illegal immigration were over. By this line of thinking, granting amnesty to undocumented residents represented no risk of a new surge in illegal immigration, as had been the case in 1986 following the passage of IRCA, legislation which extended amnesty to undocumented Mexicans in the US. Clearly, the risk of a massive illegal immigration is not over.

What should we expect in the future? Is the current surge an anomaly which will pass, or does it represent a return to earlier historical patterns? As it happens, this depends principally on the interpretation of the decade from 2008 to 2018, which in turn depends upon whether the Great Recession was only a recession, or in fact, a depression.

A short digression on economics

There is no agreed definition of the difference between a recession and a depression. However, if one cares to dig a bit, they can be distinguished, and if one works with a variety of time series data as I do, the hallmarks of a depression are evident after 2008. For example, on the graph below we can see US vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on US roads and highways, generally a good indicator of the country's economic health. During the first oil shock of 1974 and the subsequent oil shocks of 1979-1982, vehicle miles traveled initially fell, but achieved new highs immediately after the recession officially ended. In the 1991 Gulf War recession and the 2001 dot-com bust, VMT barely flinched. By contrast, during the Great Recession, vehicle miles traveled fell steeply and did not regain their 2007 peak until 2014, seven years later. (And for that, thank you, US shales.) And further, VMT was not back on trend until mid-2017, ten years after the beginning of the downturn. Clearly, the Great Recession was qualitatively different from a normal recession, different even from the brutal and prolonged oil shocks of the late 1970s.

These effects are also visible in housing and consumer credit, more relevant indicators for our discussion. Some analysts feel that the business cycle is essentially the housing cycle, and indeed, housing starts largely track recessions and recoveries. However, on only two occasions in modern history have house values fallen and remained depressed: the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2008. Much like vehicle miles traveled, US house values did not recover their 2007 peak until late 2016, almost a decade later. This matters because homes are the primary collateral of consumers, and homeowners were thus compelled to spend the better part of a decade paying down mortgages and other loans, with consumer credit not recovering its 2008 peak until 2017. In the interim, borrowing remained depressed, employment and GDP growth were tepid, and the public mood remained sour. Establishment politicians struggled for credibility, and voters across the globe regularly turned to outsiders, including television personalities and a few comedians, hoping for a better approach to governance.

So why does all this matter for illegal immigration? Because the patterns of depression are visible there as well. As with housing, vehicle miles traveled and consumer credit, remittances to Mexico from the US peaked in 2007 and did not regain that level until May 2018. Similarly, the undocumented Mexican population, according to estimates by Pew Research, peaked in 2008 and declined through 2018. Clearly, the undocumented immigrant population was under financial stress, as were US homeowners, and this stress may have contributed to some undocumented residents returning to Mexico, on the one hand, and likely acted as an impediment to new border crossers, on the other. A depression from 2008 to 2018 would explain the decline in the undocumented immigrant population.

Remittances recovered their previous highs in May of 2018, and the Trump border surge began two months later, in July. This recovery in border traffic was interrupted by covid, but as the pandemic has eased, apprehensions have soared to what promises to be historic levels. One is left with the impression that the recent, elevated levels of apprehensions are not entirely one-off surges, but rather the restoration of patterns which persisted for decades before the Great Recession. It would appear that the Great Recession was the anomaly, and the Trump and now Biden surges constitute a return to business as usual.

Demographic trends to 2030 -- an aging US society coupled with a shortage of low wage workers -- will make illegal border crossing attractive. Migrants may well be incentivized to jump the border for the balance of the decade. The future may therefore look like the pre-2007 era; indeed, from the migrant perspective, the 2020s may prove the best decade for illegal immigration since the current border regime was established in 1965.

The numbers can be estimated. In the twenty years to 2007, border apprehensions averaged 1.2 million per year, and the undocumented population grew by 0.5 million per year. Therefore, if the Great Recession is the anomaly and the post-2018 period represents a return to normal patterns of illegal immigration across the southwest border, expect the undocumented population in the US to rise from its current level around 10 million to approximately 15 million by 2030.

Everyone Loses

For both the left and the right, a large increase in undocumented immigrants would be a disaster. For the Heritage Foundation, CIS and FAIR, an increase in the undocumented population of 50% is a catastrophic failure of their policy goals. But life is no better for amnesty advocates like fwd.us, the NILC or the Immigration Hub (the prior home of the President's new immigration advisor, Tyler Moran). The emerging equilibrium may well mirror that of the 1987-2007 period, when high levels of illegal immigration made any talk of amnesty moot. Thus, a reversion to historical patterns portends disaster for literally every major stakeholder group dealing with illegal immigration: the border will be in chaos, illegal immigration will soar, and yet long-term undocumented residents will be no closer to legal status in 2030 than they are today. Even DACA may become trapped in the wash. That is what prohibitions and resulting enforcement regimes produce: wretched outcomes for everyone involved.

As I have said many times, ending prohibitions -- including the prohibition in migrant labor -- is not hard. A legalize-and-tax approach ends the related pathologies in short order. We can fix the border and provide legal status for long-time undocumented residents, but we have to use the standard and proven market-based approach. It is the only one which works.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/13/2021 - 22:40
Published:9/13/2021 9:52:01 PM
[Markets] Counterfeit Capitalism: Why A Monopolized Economy Leads To Inflation And Shortages Counterfeit Capitalism: Why A Monopolized Economy Leads To Inflation And Shortages

Authored by Matt Stoller via 'BIG by Matt Stoller' substack,

Hi,

Welcome to BIG, a newsletter about the politics of monopoly. If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here. Or just read on…

Today I’m starting a series on shortages and inflation in the economy. If you see a shortage either at work, at your business, or in your normal life, let me know so I can learn and write more about this topic, and tell interested policymakers about your experiences. I’ve set up a form where you can describe the situation. Alternatively, you can email me or just leave a comment.

And now…

How Uber Caused a Shortage

I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. for fifteen years, and one of the many unacknowledged changes has been the disappearance of taxis. While the city has good public transportation, you could jump into a taxi for a reasonably priced convenient ride around commercial areas. Around 2012, Uber and Lyft came into the market, and for the next seven years, it got even better, with cheaper Uber fares within minutes. At the time, everyone knew that Uber, and its tech economy cousins, were heavily subsidized by investors, with Uber losing up to $1 million a week. But the cheap rides were too good a deal to pass up.

It couldn’t last forever, and it didn’t. Slowly, cabs, under pressure from ride shares, disappeared. Taxis had been a reasonable business in D.C., and the drivers had middle class lifestyles, but there was a tipping point, and the industry collapsed. Similarly, driving for Uber, once a reasonable side job, became worse as the firm cut the amount paid to drivers. Now, cabs are mostly gone. And today, ride shares are often a ten to twenty minute wait, and more expensive. It’s not just a D.C. problem; nationally, Uber/Lyft prices up 92% over the last year and a half. And at least in Washington, cabs, though they could now go back to their previous pricing, have not returned. In other words, there is both inflation, and in some ways, a shortage of taxi services.

Professional class people not being able to cheaply zip around is not the biggest problem in the world, but the story I just told you about why that service shriveled isn’t an isolated incident. While once ride shares were plentiful, now they are not. A would-be monopolist both raised prices to consumers, cut wages to drivers, and reduced the amount of driving services available in general.

And this story brings us to the problem of shortages and inflation.

The Shortage Problem

Last February, before Covid hit in force, I predicted in Wired magazine that this pandemic would introduce us to the problem of shortages. And now, almost every week I get emails from readers complaining about not being able to buy things they need. Politicians I know are hearing about it on the campaign trail. If you talk to local economic development officials, they will note that both shortages of goods and labor are the top concern of most businesses at this point. Reddit has a subreddit dedicated to shortages. The most recent Federal Reserve Beige Book mentions “shortage” 80 times. Even CNN is covering the problem, noting that shipping boxes have doubled in price and the cost of moving goods from East Asian to the U.S. or Europe has gone up five-fold.

The problem is everywhere.

There are shortages in everything from ocean shipping containers to chlorine tablets to railroad capacity to black pipe (the piping that houses wires inside buildings) to spicy chicken breasts to specialized plastic bags necessary for making vaccines. Moreover, prices for all sorts of items, from housing to food, are changing in weird ways. Beef, for instance, is at near record highs for consumers, but cattle ranchers are getting paid much less than they used to for their cows.

The debate over shortages has become so important that it is now a key political problem for the Biden administration. And yet, policymakers have no institutional measurement system useful for tracking it. Economists in the policy realm are obsessed with inflation, aka pricing changes, but they don’t have a similar popular metric to focus on with regards to shortages. This institutional gap blinds them, in part, to what is happening, because if there’s no transaction because the good doesn’t exist or can’t get to the buyer, then there’s no price. Hundreds of drugs, for instance, have been in shortage for decades, but the substitute of an inferior medicine doesn’t reflect in the consumer price index.

Nevertheless, economists are taking notice that something is off in our economy, because supply chains are disrupting pricing, and causing inflation in many unusual segments, like used cars and hotels. At the Federal Reserve, there is a debate over whether this inflation is ‘transitory’ - a result of one-time shocks from the pandemic - or something else.

Among economists like Paul Krugman, the problem is temporary. Supply chains will eventually work themselves out. Inflation hawks by contrast see money printing from the Fed as inducing price hikes. Republican Jim Banks, for instance, chalked up inflation to “reckless spending bills Democrats have pushed for during the last year,” but it’s not just a partisan play; Obama advisor Larry Summers agrees with that formulation.

If you ask about supply chains, however, the answers get a lot more vague. In response to a question about shortages, Adam Posen, a former Bank of England official turned D.C. think tank expert, told the New York Times that normalcy might be “another year or two” away, though there is “genuine uncertainty here.”

What If There Is No “Normalcy”?

For forty years, everyone but logistics professionals have had the luxury of ignoring the details of how we make, ship, and distribute things. Stuff just kind of showed up in stores for consumers. Economists who talk about the broad economy, meanwhile, were obsessed with money; they thought about the Fed printing more or less of it, or taxing and spending. They too assumed stuff just kind of shows up in stores.

Yet, using this macro-framework is oddly divorced from what people are experiencing. Much of the handwaving - the assumption that things will return to the way they were and it’s just a matter of waiting, or that everything is driven by money printing or government spending - reflects the intellectual habits borne from not having to think about the flow of stuff.

There is a third explanation for inflation and shortages, and it’s not simply that the Fed has printed too much money or that Covid introduced a supply shock (though both are likely factors.) It’s a political and policy story. The consolidation of power over supply chains in the hands of Wall Street, and the thinning out of how we make and produce things over forty years in the name of efficiency, has made our economy much less resilient to shocks. These shortages are the result.

Uber’s attempt to monopolize the taxi market with cheap prices, and the resulting shortage years later after the market was ruined, is a very simple way to understand the situation, if you imagine that taking place across multiple industry segments beyond taxis. Monopolistic business models often appear to be efficient or good for consumers - for a time - but end up destroying productive capacity on the backend, which then creates or worsens a shortage. In that case, cab drivers, who used to be able to make a reasonable living, haven’t really come back.

Two years ago, I coined the term “Counterfeit Capitalism” to describe this phenomenon. I focused on the fraudulent firm WeWork, which was destroying the office share market with an attempted monopoly play turned into a straight Ponzi scheme, enabled by Softbank and JP Morgan. Like counterfeiting, such loss-leading not only harms the firm doing the loss-leading, but destroys legitimate firms in that industry, ultimately ruining the entire market.

In the gig economy, the consequences are becoming clear, as Kevin Roose of the New York Times noted a few months ago in a story titled “Farewell, Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy.” But beyond Uber and the gig economy, or firms like Amazon that pursue loss-leading strategies, such destructive business practices are also routine.

Take lumber, whose pricing increased dramatically earlier this year. As Sandeep Vaheesan pointed out, there’s a very clear predatory pricing monopoly story here. In the early 2000s, Ross-Simmons Hardwood sued lumber giant Weyerhaeuser Co. A key cost for lumber mills is the price of logs, and Ross-Simmons accused Weyerhaeuser of artificially paying more for logs to drive competitors out of business. This practice was similar to Uber incurring losses to subsidize the cost of rides to underprice taxis and capture the market, only in this case it was Weyerhaeuser incurring losses to keep the price of logs higher than they should be.

As Vaheesan put it, this behavior changed the market. “Why invest in sawmills,” he asked, “if dominant players will buy up necessary inputs as a means of crushing the margins of competitors?” Though a jury agreed that Weyerhaeuser was engaged in predatory conduct, in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Weyerhaeuser. And whaddya know, during the pandemic lumber prices spiked, even as tree growers didn’t see the benefit. More broadly, this ruling undermined small producers in capital heavy industries, who had less of a reason to invest in capacity.

This decision, like many others, was part of a forty year trend of facilitating monopolies. It wasn’t necessarily done in bad faith; policymakers followed the lead of economists, who believed dominant firms were dominant because they were efficient. This faith in efficiency over all else meant that the public structuring of markets to force resiliency - aka regulation - was illegitimate. So too were attempts to use public rules like tariffs to retain domestic production of key goods.

Alas, this philosophy has led to a series of bottlenecks in our supply chains, which are now global. After all, what else is a monopoly but a business model designed to secure or create a bottleneck? It is those bottlenecks that are worsening, or in some cases, creating the shortages we see all around us, on a worldwide scale.

Industrial Supply Crashes

I first noticed the problem of concentration and supply in 2011, when I wrote a piece on shortages of specialized video tapes, a result of the earthquake in Fukushima and the consolidation of productive capacity in that region. Before digitization, such video tapes were necessary, not to watch shows, but to film them. Because of the shortage, the NBA scrambled to get enough tape to broadcast the NBA finals, with one executive saying, “It’s like a bank run.” Why was this shortage so acute? The earthquake halfway around the world had knocked offline a Sony factory that made them. That was known an industrial supply chain crash, like a bank run, only with actual inputs and outputs of real world stuff.

This wasn’t the first such industrial supply chain crash in the era of globalization. There was one in 1999, when an earthquake in Taiwan hit semiconductor production, causing factories all over the U.S. to shut down and firms like Dell and Hewlett-Packard to stop selling computers. The key to these supply crashes was the consolidation of production in one area, often under the guise of trading off resiliency for efficiency. This was also the logic behind mass outsourcing of production.

Similar to the lead-up to the financial crisis, policymakers only saw in these trends the efficiency of large firms and beautiful global supply chains, not the pooling of hidden risk. The intermingling of banks and shadow banks into a complex and unknowable system caused a huge crash in 2008. Who knew AIG, Goldman Sachs, and fly-by-night California mortgage lenders connected to German land banks? Certainly regulators didn’t. The same is happening in slow motion with our supply chains. As one trucker noted, his Freightliner is in the shop due to a broken air line, and he was told that shop had seven other trucks sitting there with a similar issue, and so they can’t truck anything. That specialized part to repair his vehicle is no longer made domestically, but must be… trucked in from Mexico or Canada. See the problem?

The lack of resilient supply chains in the United States (and around the world) was masked, until a global shock came among. That Covid would cause such a shock was obvious; as I noted above, before the pandemic hit in force, I predicted it. And now, the pandemic is introducing shortages into our politics for the first time in living memory, largely because our highly thinned out supply chains are no longer resilient.

Forty years of consolidation suddenly met with a pandemic that required a social flexibility that our monopolistic commercial systems can no longer provide.

The Basics of Shortages: Bank Runs and Economic Shocks

So what is actually happening? I’m not sure, but below I’m going to lay out some of the dynamics I’m seeing.

First, there are two things at work that have nothing to do with monopolization.

The first is Covid, a massive shock to our economic system that changed consumption habits. We switched from restaurants to grocery store food, from movie theaters and concerts to home electronics and hunting gear, from vacations to home improvement, from public transportation to driving, etc, along with parallel shifts in various commercial sectors.

Under any circumstances, such changes would necessarily cause chaotic price movements. Hotels and airline prices collapsed, lumber prices skyrocketed, and gun owners are still experiencing the “Great Ammunition Shortage.” But some significant shifts were inevitable.

Then there is the dynamic of bank run-like panics, which induce shortages by drawing down inventories. One home builder wrote me about shortages in his industry, noting that a lack of supplies “are, predictably creating further shortages, reminiscent of the toilet paper shortages in 2020: once someone finds black pipe or whatever, they buy way more than needed since they might not find it again. I'm as guilty as anyone; I have 50 stoves sitting in a storage unit since I'll need them at some point. Meanwhile, a 54 unit project is in suspended animation while I wait for the Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners that won't be in until next year.”

Another example is the gas lines resulting from panic around the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline earlier this year. People topped up their tanks en masse, which caused shortages at gas stations even when there wasn’t an actual lack of adequate gasoline supplies.

Supply shocks, and some panic buying, was inevitable. In an economy with lots of flexibility and multiple buyers and suppliers at every level, these problems are manageable. But a monopolized economy makes the problem much worse.

The Different Types of Bottleneck Problems

Here are the five ways I’m seeing it play out.

1) Monopolies manipulate prices and lower supply. Unregulated firms with market power raise prices, cut wages, and reduce supply. That’s just what they do. A very simply example of this problem is in the beef, poultry, and pork industry, the three types of meat that are responsible for roughly half of the inflation in food. The White House came out with a very good blog post on the problem, noting that “just four firms control approximately 55-85% of the market for these three products.” The result is price spikes to consumers, lower amounts paid to farmers and ranchers, and record profits for the packers. Half of our food inflation, in other words, is a meatpacking monopoly story.

It’s not just meatpacking. The list of supply reductions seems endless. For instance, there is a shortage of various forms of generic pharmaceuticals. One would think we’d be investing in more production. Yet, as a result of a merger between Mylan and Viatris approved by the Trump administration, Viatris just shut down a giant pharmaceutical plant in West Virginia, costing 1500 jobs, but also reducing the capacity of the U.S. to make its own medicine. Similarly, in 2017, Linde and Praxair, two industrial gas giants, merged. Whaddya know, now there’s an oxygen supply shortage.

2) The Keurig Interoperability Problem: Then there are the artificial bottlenecks produced on purpose to exploit market power. For instance, why don’t we have enough specialized plastic bags to use in making vaccines? Over the past fifteen years, the producers of biopharmaceutical equipment consolidated the entire industry, such that there are really four producers each of whom sells, in business school speak, an “integrated set of products” to pharmaceutical firms who want to make stuff.

However, as I noted back in May, an ‘integrated suite of products” is really a euphemism for locking in your customers through product design, a classic sign of monopoly. If you use one kind of bioreactor bag, you can’t easily switch out to another, because the industry refuses to standardize. As this International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations noted, “the high degree of specificity and the lack of standardisation of these items represent a hurdle to short-term supplier switches and thus flexibility.” 

Basically, it’s as if these firms all make their own type of Keurig coffee machine, and don’t let the coffee pods work with each other’s machines to lock in their customers. There is no shortage of coffee, but the focus on market power has created an artificial bottleneck via product design. (To amplify the market power problem, these firms created intellectual property thickets, with thousands of patents on the plastic bags alone.)

Such interoperability issues are pervasive; railroad monopolies, for instance, don’t allow switching of freight loads to rival networks, which hinders shipping. Many of these shortages in the economy, in other words, are intentional.

3) Right to Repair, or the McDonald’s Ice Cream Problem: Another artificial bottleneck created to facilitate certain corrupt business models is to prevent firms from repairing their own equipment.

For instance, why is McDonald’s often out of ice cream? Their ice cream machines are always broken, leading to unhappy customers and frustrated franchise owners. There’s no shortage of vanilla, cream, sugar, or other inputs, but McDonald’s, and the food equipment conglomerate Middleby, do not allow franchise owners to repair their own equipment, because allowing that would jeopardize the fat maintenance equipment fees they get from servicing overly complex machines. And so there’s a shortage of ice cream.

If McDonald’s couldn’t force franchises to buy specific equipment, or if Middleby didn’t roll up the food services equipment space, or if it was illegal to block people from repairing their own equipment under reasonable terms, then there would be no shortage.

This problem, like the Keurig interoperability problem, is pervasive. John Deere tractors, weapon systems, wheelchairs, ventilators and many types of electronics have provisions preventing the ability of owners to repair their equipment. And market power creates an incentive for monopolists to produce over-engineered crap that breaks down, or to make it impossible to replace a part with a similar though not identical part from a rival firm.

When you need a flexible supply chain in a crisis, the ability to repair something comes in very handy. And the inability to repair stuff means shortages.

4) Infrastructure Monopolies: One of the most problematic monopolies is that of Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC), which is the main fabricator of high-end chips used in everything from phones to computers to cars, whose customers include every major tech firm. Semiconductors, like oil, are infrastructure at this point, going into a large swath of products. Infrastructure monopolies are bottlenecks whose effects cascade down supply chains. I mean, PPG, which is a paint conglomerate, is pointing to chip shortages as a cause of its supply disruptions.

As Alex Williams and Hassan Khan note, sustained national investment by Taiwan, combined with disinvestment by the U.S. government, led to the consolidation of manufacturing capacity in TWSC. Additionally, TWSC engaged in dumping of products on the U.S. market in the 1990s, which is a form of predatory pricing. Intel, rather than focusing on competing, organized itself around monopolization, and thus loss the technological lead over semiconductor production in the early 2010s.

The net result is that we are now highly dependent for a key form of infrastructure on a monopoly that cannot expand as quickly as necessary, and that is halfway around the world in a drought-riven geopolitically sensitive area. Disruptions or supply shocks thus mean begging Taiwan for one’s ration of semiconductors.

But there are many other infrastructure monopolies we’ve facilitated over the last forty years. There are, for instance, railroads, an industry where there used to be 30+ competitors, and which now has seven monopolistic rail lines that are constantly reducing service and destroying freight cars. Railroads, like many network systems, require not only competition, but regulation, or else the incentive to disinvest by owners is too strong. For instance, in 2019, the Union Pacific shut down a Chicago area sorting facility to increase profit margins for its Wall Street owners. As a result, in July of this year, the rail line had so much backed up traffic in Chicago that it suspended traffic from West Coast ports. Such a suspension of service backed up port unloading, causing a cascading chain reaction, delays piled upon delays.

Regulators are noticing. A few days ago, the head of the Surface Transportation Board Martin Oberman, told his industry that US railroads are focusing too much on pleasing Wall Street at the expense of shippers and the general public. To reach Wall Street profit goals, he said, “railroads have cut their workforce by 25 percent…Operating the railroads with that many fewer employees makes it difficult to avoid cuts in service, provide more reliable service, and reduce poor on-time performance.” So we know the problem. Infrastructure monopolies, when unregulated, intentionally create shortages.

We saw something similar with ocean shipping lines that have consolidated into three global alliances that build larger and larger boats. When a big dumb boat crashed in the Suez canal, a significant amount of global shipping came to a halt, which again, caused a cascading chain reaction that is still being felt, months later. And trucking is also being disrupted by the private equity roll-up of third party logistics firms which, like Uber, pushes down wages and likely removes supply from the market.

5) Power Buyers and Economic Discrimination: Then there’s price discrimination to remove small players from the market. One BIG reader, an administrative assistant at a small college, noted she’s seeing “shortages in previously plentiful food items.” There are a host of foods they can’t get anymore. “We order from Sysco mainly, and we sometimes can't get basic things like spicy chicken breasts for sandwiches. We get the same spicy chicken that Wendy's serves, so we presume Wendy's is taking priority on this.” Sysco has tremendous market power in food distribution, it is what is known as a power buyer, using a system of rebates to coerce suppliers and buyers into using its services.

Power buying is why large firms like Walmart are out-competing small ones. Walmart, for instance, tells its suppliers they must deliver on time 98% of the time, or it will fine them 3% of the cost of goods. “Known in the industry as "power buyers," large retailers have had an advantage for years when buying goods because they order larger quantities than smaller wholesalers do,” wrote CNN’s Nathan Meyersohn on this problem. “Large retailers' scale and buying clout make them a top priority for manufacturers, he said, and they often get promotions, special packaging or new products early.”

Price discrimination means smaller firms, both producers, distributors, and retailers, can’t get access to what they need to do business, and small firms are often more flexible than big ones, and serve customers in rural or niche areas. In West Virginia, for instance, where small pharmacists were the key vaccine operators, the roll-out of the vaccine to nursing homes was initially far quicker than in states that used CVS and Walgreens. The collapse of niche specialties, or the disappearance of small dealers who can fix products or service customers, is one result.

There are many other ways power buyers operate, and I’m going to devote a BIG issue to breakdowns in the pharmaceutical supply chain as a result of what are known as Group Purchasing Organizations. But that’s the gist of the problem.

*  *  *

A lot of people look at the economy over the last year and a half, and see the shortages that we’re having as a result of the pandemic and the resulting supply shock. But while Covid provided the spark, it also leveraged pre-existing fragilities existing all over the economy, including some shortages that were longstanding before the disease emerged. What all of these examples I offered have in common is the basic idea that when a monopolist concentrates power, that monopolist also concentrates risk.

The story of my book Goliath is the story of how policymakers and Americans came to see monopolies as efficient, or useful, or perhaps simply inevitable. We relaxed antitrust policy, facilitated the rise of concentrated power, and enabled looting by financiers. And this created a political crisis which is simple to explain. American commerce, law, finance, and politics is organized around producing bottlenecks, not relieving them. And that means when there’s a supply shock, we increasingly can’t take care of ourselves.

The scariest part of this whole saga is not that a bunch of malevolent monopolists run our economy, inducing shortages for profit. Indeed, these shortages are not intentional, any more than the financial crash of 2008 was intentional. Most of what is happening is unintended. Bad actors aren’t steering the ship. They are just making sure that no one else can, even when it’s headed for the rocks.

*  *  *

Once again, if you’ve seen a shortage in your neck of the woods, let me know about it. Thanks for reading. Send me tips on weird monopolies, stories I’ve missed, or comments by clicking on the title of this newsletter. And if you liked this issue of BIG, you can sign up here for more issues of BIG, a newsletter on how to restore fair commerce, innovation and democracy. If you really liked it, read my book, Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/13/2021 - 19:00
Published:9/13/2021 6:24:01 PM
[Markets] Goldman Sounds Red Alert Over The Debt Ceiling: "Upcoming Deadline Looks As Risky As The 2011 Debt Limit Fight" Goldman Sounds Red Alert Over The Debt Ceiling: "Upcoming Deadline Looks As Risky As The 2011 Debt Limit Fight"

After his catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, will Biden follow up with a technical default of the United States?

On Friday, with some segments of the bond market starting to grow increasingly nervous about the outcome of the debt ceiling debate - whose "drop dead date" is expected to fall some time between late October and early November - we laid out the two two scenarios how this particular upcoming drama could proceed in the weeks and months ahead.

But first a reminder what repo expert Scott Skyrm said, noting that "for the past several years, Congress always reached a compromise before the possibility of a "technical default" creeped into the markets. This year, as we get closer to the "drop dead date" (which hasn't yet been determined) the markets will start pricing in distortions."

And indeed they are doing just that, with the kink in the Bill curve representing the D-Day starting to gradually shift forward, from early November as of last week...

... to mid-October today, as Wrightson ICAP now expects the so-called drop-dead date -- when the government’s cash and extraordinary measures run out - to be around Oct. 22. The kink is a result of higher yields on bills that come due around the debt ceiling D-Date as investors ask for more compensation for the added risk.

By contrast, it’s possible that as short-term yields rise, yields on longer-dated Treasuries will drop amid haven demand, JPMorgan strategists wrote on Friday:  “Yields on bills may move higher and coupon yields may move lower the longer the debt limit remains unresolved,” JPMorgan's Alex Roever wrote in a note Friday.

So backing up, this is what we said were the two big challenges facing Congress if the Senate Democrats are unable to raise the debt limit as part of a spending bill, and go down the reconciliation process to pass it with only 51 votes

  • First, it is unclear whether all Senate Democrats would vote for a revised budget resolution that increases the debt limit by several trillion dollars. if Democrats use the reconciliation process, Senate rules would probably allow them only to raise the debt limit by a specific dollar figure, which would lead to more politically problematic headlines, rather than suspend it for a period of time, which has become the norm over the last decade as it does not lead to a specific dollar amount at the time of passage.
  • Second, the current reconciliation process to pass as much as $3.5 trillion in new spending is already underway, with House committees already in the process of considering and passing their segments of the bill in committee. Revising the budget resolution, which governs that process, could interfere with consideration of that legislation, and would likely take at least a couple of weeks, if not longer. If Democrats wait until Sep. 30 to test support for a debt limit increase as part of the spending bill, they might not have sufficient time to go through all of the procedures necessary to revise the resolution before the debt limit deadline.

And while the Treasury Department continues to play it cool, saying it has no plan to sort through which payments it would prioritize in case of a default, and which U.S. government obligations it would set aside once it exhausts measures to avoid breaching the federal debt limit,  Wall Street disagrees. More from Bloomberg:

The Treasury isn’t engaging in discussion of what would happen if Congress fails to suspend or increase the debt limit, which kicked in at $28.4 trillion at the beginning of August following a two-year suspension. Yellen said earlier this week that extraordinary measures to avoid breaching the limit will only last until sometime in October.

The U.S. “pays all its bills on time,” Treasury spokeswoman Lily Adams said Wednesday. “The only way for the government to address the debt ceiling is for Congress to raise or suspend the limit, just as they’ve done dozens of times before.”

However, in a worst-case scenario when the Drop-Dead Date arrives without a deal on the table, the options of prioritizing payments on publicly held U.S. Treasuries, or delaying some debt-payment dates, are still technically on the table, Wall Street strategists are telling their clients. Bolstering this view, during a 2017 round of problems over the debt limit, Moody’s said it expected the Treasury to turn to prioritizing debt servicing over other obligations if needed.

Confidence that debt payments would be prioritized also stems in part from a once-secret debt-limit contingency plan from the Obama administration that Secretary Janet Yellen’s team is at this point saying it won’t tap according to Bloomberg. Details were discussed by Federal Reserve officials during highly contentious battles over raising the debt ceiling in 2011 and 2013, as shown in transcripts of Fed conference calls.

“What the transcripts tell me is that the Treasury is able to prioritize payments,” said BofA head of interest rate strategy Mark Cabana, however their willingness to do so “is a separate question. Even if you just acknowledged the possibility, it would be very politically unpopular to say you are going to essentially pay China and Japan over paying Social Security recipients." Cabana also projected the Drop-Dead Date could happen by early November, but he’s assuming Congress lifts it or suspends it again before that.

The problem in a nutshell, is that while everyone expects some miraculous debt ceiling deal will occur just before the deadline, this may not happen.

In a worst case scenario, even if payments were sustained on Treasuries, defaulting on some of the myriad of other government obligations, from Social Security to paying for regular federal government operations, could badly damage perceptions of U.S. sovereign credit quality. Back in 2011, S&P downgraded the U.S. after a protracted if ultimately successful battle to lift the debt limit. Amid another such struggle two years later, Fitch Ratings put the U.S. on negative watch. Fitch went on to remove the designation in 2014, before putting it back on in July 2020.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, said that if that did come to pass, it would raise U.S. borrowing costs nevertheless given the damage of failing to make good on other obligations, even if just for a limited period.

“There’s a not-inconsequential risk in this go-around that there’s a mistake here -- and a default,” Zandi said in a phone interview Thursday. “I’m sure Treasury is looking at all kinds of break-glass scenarios” such as prioritization, he said. “But this is break-glass stuff, which means we’d be in a crisis and it would be cataclysmic and we’d be going off the rails.”

Putting it all together, this morning Goldman's economists have published another note on the upcoming debt ceiling showdown, explaining why contrary to generally cheerful sentiment that the problem will resolve itself. Here are the highlights:

We estimate Congress will need to raise the debt limit by mid-October, though it is possible the Treasury might be able to operate under the current limit until late October. It is possible, though not likely, that the Treasury might be able to continue to make all scheduled payments until sometime in early November if the deficit is smaller than expected.

There are two procedural routes congressional Democratic leaders can take to raise the debt limit, but neither is easy. Democrats would not need Republican support if they use the reconciliation process, but they would face a number of other procedural and political disadvantages. Attaching a debt limit suspension to upcoming spending legislation looks more likely, but this might not succeed and could lead to a government shutdown.

A failure to raise the debt limit would have serious negative consequences. While it seems likely that the Treasury would continue to redeem maturing Treasury securities and make coupon payments, if Congress does not raise the debt limit by the deadline the Treasury would need to halt more than 40% of expected payments, including some payments to households.

Beyond the direct impact, the debt limit could also affect the medium-term outlook for fiscal policy. We already expect the Democratic fiscal package to be scaled back from the proposed $3.5 trillion/10 years in new spending to $2.5 trillion, offset by around $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue. While there is not necessarily a direct linkage between the debt limit and the fiscal package, the more these issues become entangled the more pressure there may be from centrist Democrats to scale back the size of the fiscal package.

Stepping back for a second, we remind readers that calculations for the Treasury "drop dead date" are fluid and depend on tax revenues as well as outlays. While consensus expects the debt limit to be hit by mid-October, Goldman calculates that the Treasury may be able to operate under the current debt limit until the end of October. If revenues surprise to the upside - the September 15 corporate tax deadline should provide new information - or outlays surprise to the downside, it is possible, though not likely, that the Treasury might be able to continue to make all scheduled payments until sometime in early November.

In addition to complications arising from unpredictable cash flows, this time around there is also the Treasury’s higher-than-usual cash balance which adds further ambiguity. In the past, the Treasury’s projection of the date by which Congress needs to raise the debt limit has assumed a minimum level that the cash balance must not drop below (e.g. $25bn). Since the cash balance is usually much smaller than it has been over the last year, the main determinant of the deadline was the size of the deficit relative to the “extraordinary measures” that Treasury can employ to make room for additional borrowing under the limit.

This time around, the Treasury started with a cash balance of $459BN when the debt limit was reinstated Aug. 2, much larger than ahead of prior debt limit deadlines. This has declined to around $200BN as of Friday. In this context, Goldman notes that in light of greater uncertainty regarding cash flows, "setting a higher minimum cash balance than usual would be prudent. That said, a projection that the debt limit must be raised at the same time that the Treasury has a large cash balance would likely reduce the credibility of the projection and the urgency Congress feels at that point to raise it." The deadline is likely to fall in October regardless, we believe, but a more conservative (higher) assumption regarding the cash balance could put the deadline earlier in the month, while a lower assumption would put the deadline closer to the end of the month.

While the drop-dead date remains fluid, where we have some more certainly is what the way ahead would look like.

As we explained last week, there are two procedural routes congressional Democratic leaders can take to raise the debt limit, but as Goldman again warns, neither is easy - here's why as the bank's chief economist Jan Hatzius explains:

  1. The first would be to pass the increase via the reconciliation process, which they are also attempting to use to pass a broad fiscal package. The only advantage this would provide is that reconciliation legislation requires only 51 votes to pass the Senate, rather than the 60 usually needed. In theory, it could pass with only Democratic votes. However, using the reconciliation process has several disadvantages. First, it would require Democrats to pass a new budget resolution. The resolution the House and Senate passed in August House and Senate passed last month to provide procedural protections to their $3.5 trillion fiscal legislation omitted a debt limit increase. Revising the resolution would take time and there is some question as to whether it would be procedurally possible. Since the resolution also sets the parameters for the upcoming fiscal package that has already started to move through committees, reopening the budget resolution could create problems for that bill as some centrist Democrats might be loath to vote again to allow such a large package, particularly if a debt limit increase is attached.
  2. Second, while Senate rules clearly allow the debt limit to be raised, there is a good chance that suspending the debt limit would be prohibited. Over the last decade, debt limit suspensions have become common instead of increases, as suspensions allow lawmakers to avoid voting on a large dollar figure. An increase lasting past the 2022 midterm elections would be in the trillions, which congressional Democrats are apt to want to avoid, particularly at the same time they are debating a large fiscal package.
  3. Third, using the reconciliation process would likely mean that Democrats alone would bear the political burden of raising the limit, since Republicans would be unlikely to vote for an increase (or suspension) unless absolutely necessary.

In light of these disadvantages, Goldman does not expect Democrats to pursue a reconciliation strategy for the debt limit before the end of September. Instead, it appears more likely to us that a debt limit suspension will be added to other legislation Congress will vote on in the next few weeks.

According to the bank, the most likely scenario would be for Democratic leaders to combine the debt limit suspension with a stopgap spending bill (a “continuing resolution”) that would extend spending authority past the end of the fiscal year (e.g. from Oct. 1 to mid-December) as well as provide funding for disaster relief and resettling Afghan refugees. At the moment, the vote on that bill looks likely the week of Sep. 20, though this could slip.

So what happens if Democratic leaders move forward with plans to combine the debt limit with the spending bill? Well, according to Goldman, A government shutdown becomes a very real possibility. The bank envisions three outcomes:

  1. The bill passes, resolving both issues. The simplest outcome would be for Republicans to allow the continuing resolution/debt limit bill to pass. This could technically happen without Republican support, if they voted against the bill but did not filibuster it—in that case, it could pass with 51 votes. That, however, won't happen. The debt limit increase might also be structured to allow the President to raise or suspend the debt limit, subject to a resolution of disapproval that would block it. Congress could pass such a resolution, but the President could veto it, leaving the debt limit increase intact. Congress used a version of this in 2011 to end the debt limit standoff that year. While such a scenario is possible again this year, Goldman points out the obvious stating that "it does not look like the most likely outcome, in our view."
  2. Republicans oppose the package, and Democratic leaders extend spending authority without the debt limit. As noted above, the exact date on which the Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all its obligations is unclear, but it is probably not October 1. If Republicans are willing to support an extension of spending authority but not a debt limit increase, Democratic leaders could have a difficult time keeping the two issues joined if the debt limit is not seen as immediately pressing. Instead, a short-term extension of spending authority could push the issue until later in the month.
  3. Republicans oppose the package but Democrats keep them tied together. In this scenario, a shutdown would become likely. This would be more likely if the debt limit deadline turns out to be earlier in October than expected.

While Goldman believes that at this point, the combined probability of the first two options, in which the government stays open, is greater than a shutdown starting October 1, there is a good chance that the solution at the end of this month is a temporary one, and that uncertainty persists into October. Exhibit 3 summarizes the key events on the calendar through year-end.

The bottom line, as Goldman concludes, is that this is starting to look like the "Riskiest Debt Limit Deadline in a Decade." Here's why:

The upcoming debt limit deadline is beginning to look as risky as the 2011 debt limit showdown that led to Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the US sovereign rating and eventually to budget sequestration, or the 2013 deadline that overlapped with a government shutdown. Like in 2011, sizeable budget deficits have motivated Republicans to use the debt limit to win policy concessions. Like in 2013, the deadline falls soon after the end of the fiscal year, raising the prospect of a government shutdown on top of debt limit uncertainty.

To be sure, there are also differences, the main of which is that Congress is not under divided control as it was in those instances. In theory, this could have made an increase easier, since Democrats could pass it via reconciliation. Even without that process, Democrats set the agenda on the House and Senate floors and can force repeated votes on the issue, which should make it somewhat easier to pass a debt limit increase than in a divided Congress.

However, unified Democratic control has made it harder in other ways. Prior debt limit increases have usually been bipartisan because there was no other choice. This time, Democrats could theoretically increase the debt limit without Republican support, and Republicans might believe they eventually will. Republicans might eventually support an increase if there is truly no other option, so Democrats might try to eliminate any other options.

In short, we are facing down an epic game of chicken between the two political parties.

The 2011 and 2013 debt limit experiences had clear effects on financial markets and public sentiment. Exhibit 4 shows selected indicators by proximity to the deadline in those years. In 2011, the S&P downgrade and, more importantly, the economic deterioration in Europe had an impact even after the debt limit was raised. In 2013, the effects were strongest in farther ahead of the deadline, as the government shutdown preceded the deadline by more than 2 weeks.

While most expect one (or both) parties to blink in the 11th hour, what if that does not happen?

Well, if neither party blinks, it is conceivable that the Treasury could exhaust its cash balance and extraordinary measures before Congress addresses the debt limit. If this occurs, it seems reasonably clear that the Treasury could continue to make payments of principal and interest on Treasury securities - as discussed above -  at least as a technical matter.

Redeeming maturing securities should not be constrained by the debt limit, since new issues would replace maturing securities without increasing the overall amount of debt subject to limit. The only obvious scenario in which redeeming maturing securities could become a problem would be if debt limit issues reduced demand for Treasuries to the extent there was insufficient demand at auctions, but this seems quite unlikely. In the period ahead of the 2013 debt limit deadline, which coincided with a government shutdown, Treasury bill auctions saw a notable decline in demand for securities compared with surrounding auctions, and a higher resulting yield, but the volume of bids was nevertheless multiples of the amount the Treasury was offering (Exhibit 5).

Meanwhile, covering interest payments without a debt limit increase would depend on the Treasury’s ability and willingness to prioritize certain payments over others. The historical record suggests this is what would indeed occur:

  • In 1957, prioritization appears to have occurred following expiration of a temporary increase in the debt limit. As the federal government began to run a budget deficit following expiration, the Treasury was forced to delay payments to federal contractors.
  • In 1985, ahead of the debt limit increase that year, the General Accounting Office (GAO, now known as the Government Accountability Office) advised the Senate Finance Committee that the Treasury had the authority to choose the order in which to pay obligations.
  • In early 1996, the Treasury indicated that failure to raise the debt limit would result in failure to make Social Security payments, though Congress provided relief before any delay occurred.
  • In July 2011, the Treasury and Fed developed procedures to prioritize government payments in the event the debt limit was not increased in time. According to an FOMC transcript from that time, principal and interest on Treasury securities would continue to be made on time and other payments could have been delayed. Principal would have been paid by rolling maturing issues into new securities. To ensure the timely payment of interest, the Treasury would have held back other payments in order to accumulate sufficient cash balances to ensure sufficient cash on hand.
  • In 2013, FOMC transcripts described a similar procedure to prioritize payments on Treasury securities.

Going back to the topic of forecasting daily cash inflows and outflows, the next chart from Goldman shows estimated daily levels of federal receipts and payments, (excluding public debt transactions). The Treasury makes coupon payments infrequently and generally takes in more cash than the amount of the payment on the days they are due. If the debt limit has not been raised by the time that payment approaches, the Treasury would likely need to delay other payments, even if there is sufficient cash to make them, in order to build cash to make the coupon payment.

Of course, even if the Treasury could make its scheduled coupon payments, the consequences of a failure to raise the debt limit would be severe. As shown above,  Federal outlays are likely to exceed receipts by around $500bn (2.2% of annual GDP) in total over October and November. If Congress fails to raise the limit, the Treasury would need to reduce outlays by that amount, a reduction of more than 40%. Absent an immediate resolution, the US - already addicted to trillions in government transfer payments - would quickly spiral into a consumer-led depression.

As noted above, FOMC transcripts from around the time of the 2011 and 2013 debt limit debates included a discussion of the measures the Fed might take in the event that Congress failed to raise the debt limit. While many of the actions are already part of the Fed’s toolkit, including repo and reverse repo operations, the distinguishing feature is that the Fed would maintain eligibility for Treasuries with delayed payments as collateral. Also discussed in those transcripts are CUSIP swaps, in which the Fed would swap unaffected Treasury securities on its balance sheet with delayed-payment securities. However, this was seen as a more controversial step that Chairman Powell, then a Fed governor, described as “loathsome” though one that he would not rule out “in extremis”.

Putting it all together, and the Impact of Fiscal Policy Beyond the Near-Term

Beyond the immediate (and potentially catastrophic) effects of a failure to raise the debt limit, a prolonged standoff could have more important effects on fiscal policy over the medium-term. As noted above, the debt limit needs to be raised around the same time that Congress is likely to consider major fiscal legislation to implement large parts of Biden’s agenda. To win the necessary support, Goldman expects that congressional Democratic leaders will scale down their proposed $3.5 trillion/10 years reconciliation bill to something more like $2.5 trillion in new spending financed by around $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue. Some centrist Democrats are calling for even lower figures. While there is not necessarily a direct linkage between the debt limit and the fiscal package, the more these issues become entangled the more pressure there may be from centrist Democrats to scale back the size of the fiscal package.

This is a potentially huge problem because as we discussed on Friday, the US is facing the start of a "phase 1" stagflation where only another record stimulus package allowing the US to kick the can...

... will avoid a major slowdown in 2022. Anything less, and the US economy faces a very grim fate in 2022 when the massive fiscal boosts from 2020 and 2021 become howling tailwinds, with the economy threatening to come unglued just in time for the midterm elections.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/13/2021 - 15:22
Published:9/13/2021 2:55:36 PM
[Markets] Why Americans Were Never Told Why They Were Attacked On 9/11 Why Americans Were Never Told Why They Were Attacked On 9/11

Authored by Joe Lauria via Consortium News,

After a Russian commercial airliner was downed over Egypt’s Sinai in October 2015, Western media reported that the Islamic State bombing was retaliation against Russian airstrikes in Syria. The killing of 224 people, mostly Russian tourists on holiday, was matter-of-factly treated as an act of war by a fanatical group without an air force resorting to terrorism as a way to strike back.

Yet, Western militaries have killed infinitely more innocent civilians in the Middle East than Russia has. Then why won’t Western officials and media cite retaliation for that Western violence as a cause of terrorist attacks on New York, Paris and Brussels?

Wikimedia Commons

Instead, there’s a fierce determination not to make the same kinds of linkages that the press made so easily when it was Russia on the receiving end of terror. [See Consortium Newss Obama Ignores Russian Terror Victims.]

For example, throughout four hours of Sky News' coverage of the July 7, 2005 attacks in London, only the briefest mention was made about a possible motive for that horrific assault on three Underground trains and a bus, killing 52 people. But the attacks came just two years after Britain’s participation in the murderous invasion of Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of the Iraq War’s architects, condemned the loss of innocent life in London and linked the attacks to a G-8 summit he’d opened that morning. A TV host then read and belittled a 10-second claim of responsibility from a self-proclaimed Al Qaeda affiliate in Germany saying that the Iraq invasion was to blame. There was no more discussion about it.

To explain why these attacks happen is not to condone or justify terrorist outrages against innocent civilians. It is simply a responsibility of journalism, especially when the "why" is no mystery. It was fully explained by Mohammad Sidique Khan, one of the four London suicide bombers. Though speaking for only a tiny fraction of Muslims, he said in a videotaped recording before the attack:

"Your democratically-elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world. And your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters. Until we feel security you will be our targets and until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation."

The Islamic State published the following reason for carrying out the November 2015 Paris attacks:

"Let France and all nations following its path know that they will continue to be at the top of the target list for the Islamic State and that the scent of death will not leave their nostrils as long as they partake part in the crusader campaign … and boast about their war against Islam in France, and their strikes against Muslims in the lands of the Caliphate with their jets."

Claiming It’s a State of Mind

Ignoring such clear statements of intent, we are instead served bromides by the likes of the State Department about the Brussels bombings, saying it is impossible "to get into the minds of those who carry out these attacks."

Mind reading isn’t required, however. The Islamic State explicitly told us in a press statement why it did the Brussels attacks: "We promise black days for all crusader nations allied in their war against the Islamic State, in response to their aggressions against it."

Yet, still struggling to explain why it happened, the State Department said, "I think it reflects more of an effort to inflict on who they see as Western or Westerners … fear that they can carry out these kinds of attacks and to attempt to lash out."

The statement ascribed the motive to a state of mind: "I don’t know if this is about establishing a caliphate beyond the territorial gains that they’ve tried to make in Iraq and Syria, but it’s another aspect of Daesh’s kind of warped ideology that they’re carrying out these attacks on Europe and elsewhere if they can. … Whether it’s the hopes or the dreams or the aspirations of a certain people never justifies violence."

Sept. 12, 2001: President George W. Bush, center, with Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice looking over a brief together in the White House. (U.S. National Archives)

After 9/11, President George W. Bush infamously said the US was attacked because "they hate our freedoms." It’s a perfect example of a Western view that ascribes motives to Easterners without allowing them to speak for themselves or taking them seriously when they do.

Explaining his motive behind 9/11, Osama bin Laden, in his Letter to America, expressed anger about U.S. troops stationed on Saudi soil. Bin Laden asked: "Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple: Because you attacked us and continue to attack us." (Today the US has dozens of bases in seven countries in the region.) 

During a Republican presidential debate in 2008 Rudy Giuliani, who was New York mayor on 9/11, became incensed and demanded Ron Paul withdraw his remark that the U.S. was attacked because of US violent interventions in Muslim countries.

"Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us?" Paul said. "They attacked us because we have been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for ten years. I’m suggesting we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it."

"That’s an extraordinary statement," responded Giuliani. "As someone who lived through the attack of Sept. 11, that we invited the attack, because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before. And I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11."

The audience had never heard it either, as they heartily cheered Giuliani. "And I would ask the Congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean that," Giuliani said.

"I believe very sincerely when the CIA teach and speak about blowback," Paul responded. "If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we are rich and we are free. They attack us because we are over there."

So why won’t Western officials and corporate media take the jihadists’ statements of intent at face value? Why won’t they really tell us why we are attacked?

It seems to be an effort to cover up a long and ever more intense history of Western military and political intervention in the Middle East and the violent reactions it provokes, reactions that put innocent Western lives at risk. Indirect Western culpability in these terrorist acts is routinely suppressed, let alone evidence of direct Western involvement with terrorism.

Some government officials and journalists might delude themselves into believing that Western intervention in the Middle East is an attempt to protect civilians and spread democracy to the region, instead of bringing chaos and death to further the West’s strategic and economic aims. Other officials must know better.

1920-1950: A Century of Intervention Begins

A few might know the mostly hidden history of duplicitous and often reckless Western actions in the Middle East. It is hidden only to most Westerners, however. So it is worth looking in considerable detail at this appalling record of interference in the lives of millions of Muslims and peoples of other faiths to appreciate the full weight it exerts on the region. It can help explain anti-Western anger that spurs a few radicals to commit atrocities in the West.

The history is an unbroken string of interventions from the end of the First World War until today. It began after the war when Britain and France double-crossed the Arabs on promised independence for aiding them in victory over the Ottoman Empire. The secret 1916 Sykes-Picot accord divided the region between the European powers behind the Arabs’ backs. London and Paris created artificial nations from Ottoman provinces to be controlled by their installed kings and rulers with direct intervention when necessary.

What has followed for 100 years has been continuous efforts by Britain and France, superseded by the United States after the Second World War, to manage Western dominance over a rebellious region. The new Soviet government revealed the Sykes-Picot terms in November 1917 in Izvestia. When the war was over, the Arabs revolted against British and French duplicity. London and Paris then ruthlessly crushed the uprisings for independence.

France defeated a proclaimed Syrian government in a single day, July 24, 1920, at the Battle of Maysalun. Five years later there was a second Syrian revolt, replete with assassinations and sabotage, which took two years to suppress. If you walk through the souk in Old Damascus and look up at the corrugated iron roof you see tiny specks of daylight peeking through. Those are bullet holes from French war planes that massacred civilians below.

Britain put down a series of independence revolts in Iraq between 1920 and 1922, first with 100,000 British and Indian troops and then mostly with the first use of air power in counterinsurgency. Thousands of Arabs were killed. Britain also helped its installed King Abdullah put down rebellions in Jordan in 1921 and 1923.

London then faced an Arab revolt in Palestine lasting from 1936 to 1939, which it brutally crushed, killing about 4,000 Arabs. The next decade, Israeli terrorists drove the British out of Palestine in 1947, one of the rare instances when terrorists attained their political goals.

Germany and Italy, late to the Empire game, were next to invade North Africa and the Middle East at the start of the Second World War. They were driven out by British imperial forces (largely Indian) with U.S. help. Britain invaded and defeated nominally independent Iraq, which had sided with the Axis. With the Soviet Union, Britain also invaded and occupied Iran.

April 18,1991: Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the “Highway of Death”, the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. (Joe Coleman, Air Force Magazine, Wikimedia Commons)

After the war, the U.S. assumed regional dominance under the guise of fending off Soviet regional influence. Just three years after Syrian independence from France, the two-year old Central Intelligence Agency engineered a Syrian coup in 1949 against a democratic, secular government. Why? Because it had balked at approving a Saudi pipeline plan that the U.S. favored. Washington installed Husni al-Za’im, a military dictator, who approved the plan.

1950s: Syria Then and Now

Before the major invasion and air wars in Iraq and Libya of the past 15 years, the 1950s was the era of America’s most frequent, and mostly covert, involvement in the Middle East. The first coup of the Central Intelligence Agency was in Syria in March 1949. The Eisenhower administration then wanted to contain both Soviet influence and Arab nationalism, which revived the quest for an independent Arab nation. After a series of coups and counter-coups, Syria returned to democracy in 1955, leaning towards the Soviets.

A 1957 Eisenhower administration coup attempt in Syria, in which Jordan and Iraq were to invade the country after manufacturing a pretext, went horribly wrong, provoking a crisis that spun out of Washington’s control and brought the U.S. and Soviets to the brink of war.

Turkey put 50,000 troops on the Syrian border, threatening to invade. Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev threatened Turkey with an implied nuclear attack and the U.S. got Ankara to back off. This sounds eerily familiar to what happened last month when Turkey again threatened to invade Syria and the U.S. put on the brakes. The main difference is that Saudi Arabia in 1957 was opposed to the invasion of Syria, while it was ready to join it last month. [See Consortiumnews.com’s Risking Nuclear War for Al Qaeda?]

In the 1950s, the U.S. also began its association with Islamic religious extremism to counter Soviet influence and contain secular Arab nationalism. "We should do everything possible to stress the 'holy war' aspect," President Eisenhower told his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. After the Cold War, religious extremists, some still tied to the West, became themselves the excuse for U.S. intervention.

Read the rest at Consortium News

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/12/2021 - 23:30
Published:9/12/2021 10:47:15 PM
[Markets] Biden's Total Financial Surveillance Biden's Total Financial Surveillance

Authored by Matt Welch via Reason.com,

What if every one of your non-cash financial transactions was automatically reported to a beefed-up, audit-hungry IRS?

Imagine living in a world where every one of your noncash financial transactions—a restaurant meal, a Venmo transfer to a friend, maybe some bitcoin bought on the dips—was automatically reported to a beefed-up, audit-hungry IRS.

That dystopia will become a reality if President Joe Biden gets his way.

Biden, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and key Capitol Hill allies such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) are pushing a vast, intrusive financial surveillance system in the name of closing the "tax gap."

But don't worry: There's no need to fear if you've got nothing to hide.

"For already compliant taxpayers, the only effect of this regime is to provide easy access to summary information on financial accounts and to decrease the likelihood of costly 'no fault' examinations," the Treasury Department said this May in a nakedly authoritarian document called "The American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda."

But "for noncompliant taxpayers," the department continues, "this regime would encourage voluntary compliance as evaders realize that the risk of evasion being detected has risen noticeably."

The administration's proposed "comprehensive financial account reporting regime" would dramatically increase the types of financial institutions and transactions exposed to the feds' prying eyes. "All business and personal accounts from financial institutions, including bank, loan, and investment accounts," would be forced to "report gross inflows and outflows" to the IRS. And not just bank accounts: The dragnet would now include PayPal, settlement companies, and "crypto asset exchanges," for starters.

The new domestic surveillance program, which requires congressional approval, is one prong of a tripartite strategy for transforming the entire global financial system into a harmonious, haven-free collection funnel to the IRS. The second part, which has taken up the bulk of Biden's multilateral diplomacy thus far, is getting the industrialized world to agree on a global minimum corporate tax of 15 percent, while setting up a system to prevent multinational companies from registering their profits in the lowest-tax jurisdictions.

Cutting corporate taxes is "a self-defeating competition," Yellen said in April, "and neither President Biden nor I are interested in participating in it anymore. We want to change the game."

In July, representatives from 130 countries, including finance ministers from the G-20 representing the world's richest democracies, agreed in principle to a worldwide minimum corporate tax. "We have a chance now to build a global and domestic tax system," Yellen crowed. "The race to the bottom is one step closer to coming to an end."

The agreement still has a significant obstacle to overcome—namely, the legislatures of 130 countries, including the U.S. Congress. But Yellen has some cause to be cocky, because the third prong of Washington's strategy has already been constructed.

In 2009, President Barack Obama promised to generate $210 billion in new tax revenue over 10 years by cracking down on "overseas tax loopholes." While the corporate-tax element of the plan was quickly killed by lobbyists, the individual component remained in the form of the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Built on a foundation of American exceptionalism (the U.S. is one of only two countries that tax citizens living abroad), FATCA imposed onerous new annual reporting requirements on Americans with more than $10,000 in overseas financial institutions. The law brazenly threatened international banks if they didn't rat out their U.S. clients to the IRS.

The results were predictable: Expats were locked out of banking services, record numbers of mostly middle-class Americans renounced their U.S. citizenship, and IRS collections went essentially unchanged. But for a very small political price (no one much cares about the estimated 9 million Americans living abroad), Washington was able to bend an entire global financial system to its will.

An IRS with the ability to compel global transaction data sounds like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel. Yet here we are—unless we consciously cover our tracks.

"Another concern is that [the] information reporting regime will shift taxpayers toward a greater use of cash," the Treasury Department's compliance plan frets. It also notes that cryptocurrencies "already pose a significant detection problem by facilitating illegal activity broadly including tax evasion." Cash and crypto may be the last currencies compatible with privacy.

"I promised to lead the world to deliver a foreign policy for the middle class, and today, we are doing just that," Biden said after the 130-country agreement. Just as long as the middle class has nothing to hide.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/12/2021 - 22:30
Published:9/12/2021 9:53:29 PM
[Markets] Navy SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden Says Internal Division Now Biggest Threat To America Navy SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden Says Internal Division Now Biggest Threat To America

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times,

Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL credited with killing Osama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, said that the biggest threat to America comes not from outside but from internal strife and division.

Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden, poses for a portrait in Washington, on Nov. 14, 2014. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

O’Neill made the remarks in an interview with Fox News on the eve of Sept. 11, as the nation prepared to honor victims of the terror attack on the World Trade Center 20 years ago that killed at least 2,977 people and injured thousands more.

“My biggest concern is the division in this country,” O’Neill told the outlet.

Most people are good to each other. But the anger and the division gets the ratings, and that’s what people hear. A lot of people know if they keep people divided they can stay in power and it’s wrong.”

“We can disagree with each other but we’re on the same team when it all comes down to it,” O’Neill added.

Smoke billows from one of the towers of the World Trade Center as flames and debris explode from the second tower, in New York City, on Sept. 11, 2001. (Chao Soi Cheong/AP Photo)

O’Neill was part of the 2011 raid in Pakistan targeting the Al-Qaeda leader and says he was the one who fired the fatal shot.

In a separate interview with CBS News, O’Neill recounted the daring mission that left bin Laden dead.

“When I turned the corner, I saw Osama bin Laden standing there,” he said, adding that he thought the Al-Qaeda leader may have been preparing to detonate an explosive.

“He’s a threat, he’s going to blow up, I need to treat him like a suicide bomber and that’s why I had to shoot him in the face,” O’Neill said.

Copies of a newspaper are seen outside the World Trade Center site after the death of accused 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was announced by U.S. President Barack Obama, in New York City, on May 2, 2011. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

O’Neill said the mission to get bin Laden was a testament to the ability of people holding different political views to join forces to counter threats against the homeland.

“We proved that we can work together,” he said, adding that he hopes events like the anniversary of 9/11 are seized as an opportunity by both the right and the left to bridge divisions in the pursuit of common objectives.

“When all is said and done, we’re all Americans and we should be on the same team,” he said.

O’Neill’s remarks about the need for Americans to bridge political and ideological divides was echoed by President Joe Biden, who in a recorded video released on Sept. 10 recalled the heroics seen in the aftermath of the terror attacks and how America saw “a true sense of national unity.”

Biden, who on Saturday was set to visit three sites attacked on 9/11, added in the video that “unity makes us who we are” and called for people to “have a fundamental respect and faith in each other and in this nation.”

Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, told Fox News that he planned to visit Ground Zero in New York City on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/12/2021 - 18:30
Published:9/12/2021 5:41:15 PM
[Markets] End Of The US Empire: Orwell's 1984 'Newspeak' & Dirt Cheap Gold End Of The US Empire: Orwell's 1984 'Newspeak' & Dirt Cheap Gold

Authored by Egon von Greyerz via GoldSwitzerland.com,

The final phase of Empires normally ends with the same signals whether it was 2000 years ago in Rome or  today in the US.

One of the first signs is losing wars together with excessive debts, deficits, devaluations and decadence  The US being defeated and hurriedly fleeing from Afghanistan in a few days clearly signifies the end of the US empire.

The mighty US military has in the last few decades conducted disastrous wars against very small countries with no big armies or weaponry. Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan come to mind but there are many more as we show below.

Brown’s University has just made a study of the US cost of wars since 9/11. They arrive at a staggering $8 trillion and the loss of 900,000 lives .

So in the last 20 years, the US has spent $8 trillion or 40% of annual GDP on conducting totally unsuccessful wars. The report also states that even after the exodus from Afghanistan the US is still involved in wars in over 80 countries.

US CURRENT WAR ACTIVITY

The cost of being involved in some kind of war activity in 85 countries will continue to cost the dying US empire dearly for decades to come.

1984 IS HERE AGAIN

Are the 2020s going to be a return to Orwell’s 1984 with Big Brother watching us everywhere?

Well, it certainly looks like many governments and the elite is leading us in that direction.

Covid has been a superb excuse for controlling the people in a number of countries. Free speech has been banned in the media and unacceptable censorship is now the rule on social media whether it relates to vaccines, climate or race.

Dont you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

George Orwell, 1984

But it gets worse as we are seeing severe clampdowns on free movement. There are  lockdowns, quarantines, restrictions or bans on travel both domestically and internationally, ban on shopping, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, stadiums with offices and schools closed. And then we are not allowed to see friends, parents, or even go to work. The list of restrictions is endless and they seem to be deliberately and regularly turned on and off in order to control confuse the people.

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

George Orwell, 1984

There have been great variations of these restrictions. Countries like Australia and New Zealand have locked people in. Then we have, for example, Sweden on the other hand which has had virtually no restrictions, and no closure of schools, shops or offices. No masks have ever been mandated.

I have spent part of the summer in Sweden and it has been refreshing to see people conduct their lives normally. You hardly ever see anyone wearing a mask anywhere. The Swedish government doesn’t get involved and instead it is the health officials who decide. The Chief Epidemiologist Tegnell in Sweden has conducted a non-intervention policy, telling the people to take their own precautions. He doesn’t consider that masks fulfil any purpose either but rather that they have a negative effect. Quite a contrast to Australia. When it comes to infections and deaths, Sweden has fared better than many countries.

As regards treatment of Covid, conventional medicine has had very limited success. But sadly, alternative treatments are totally suppressed. This despite major parts of India and Central Africa having used Ivermectin with almost 100% success and virtually eliminated Covid. Some hospital doctors in the US have also used Ivermectin with great results.

The map below shows in blue the area of Africa where Ivermectin has been successfully used. The blue line at the bottom shows deaths per 100,000 in that region. A massive difference to the deaths (yellow line) in the yellow areas.

Ivermectin was invented 50 years ago against parasite infestations. Over 4.5 billion doses have been given and the creator received the Nobel prize. Still the WHO, Big Pharma and  Western governments refuse to even test Ivermectin against Covid. It is too cheap to produce and compete with the vaccines.

HISTORY REWRITTEN

In the US and the UK history is now being rewritten especially at university campuses. Statues, paintings and books related to slavery are being taken down even if the historical  person was a major benefactor to the university in question.

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

George Orwell, 1984

The problem with rewriting history is where do you stop? Throughout history there have been wars and invasions which were all unjust. But we can’t reverse history. Just take America as an example. Both North and South America have been invaded and taken over by European countries in the last few hundred years, whether they were English, French, Spanish or Portuguese.

In North America a major part of the original population was killed and the rest moved to reservations. If we rewrite history the Europeans must obviously pull out and give the land back to the Indians.

Hardly practical!

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink

George Orwell, 1984

RICH LAND POOR LAND AND DESTITUTE LAND

Rich Land – Poor Land – Destitute Land is the natural cycle of most countries and empires.

As a country goes from rich to poor, it finds it hard to accept that it is in a permanent decline.

For some countries like Venezuela that can’t borrow money externally, the process from abundance to destitution was very quick and for others like the Roman Empire it took centuries.

For more powerful countries, running out of money is no problem. Since deficits are only  believed to be temporary, they can easily be financed by debt. And this is exactly what happened to the US empire in the early 1960s. There was gradually less money in the till than the country spent, so it started borrowing.

For 60 years the US has increased the Federal debt every year with the exception of 4 years. So the US is now living on not just borrowed money but also borrowed time.

Excessive debt has throughout history killed empires and the already-dying US empire will be no exception.

It took 200 years for the US to reach just under $1 trillion. Reagan managed to treble that debt in just 8 years. Obama inherited a $10t debt from Bush and doubled it to $20t in 8 years.

With debt on average doubling every 8 years since Reagan became president, my target,  set 5 years ago, was that in 2025 the US debt would be $40t. But with Biden’s profligacy I would now expect that to be at least $50t !!!!!  Just think about it, in 2025 US debt will be 50x higher than when Reagan took over and 100x higher since the gold window was closed in Aug 1971.

So we are now in the exponential phase of the debt explosion. Exponential moves are almost without exception terminal as I explained in this article from 2017:

There is a more scientific illustration how these exponential moves occur and also how they end.

Imagine a football stadium which is filled with water. Every minute one drop is added. The number of drops doubles every minute. Thus it goes from 1 to 2, 4, 8 16 etc. So how long would it take to fill the entire stadium? One day, one month or a year? No it would be a lot quicker and only take 50 minutes! That in itself is hard to understand but even more interestingly, how full is the stadium after 45 minutes? Most people would guess 75-90%. Totally wrong. After 45 minutes the stadium is only 7% full! In the final 5 minutes the stadium goes from 7% full to 100% full.

It is of course impossible to predict where we are in this debt explosion. If we are in the final 5 minutes then debt can still increase almost 15x. And if we get hyperinflation which is very likely, the increase could be substantially higher.

As debt will have grown 50x since 1981 by 2025, tax revenues will probably stay at a measly $3.5t as the economy slows down or even collapses. The consequences are obvious. When the interest rates rise, which is guaranteed as the Fed loses control, the US empire can’t even afford to pay the interest and will default.

This is how all empires end, they lose not only wars but also total control of money.

What a bloo-y mess!

The only problem is that once fortunes have turned, there is a very, very long way back to prosperity. This is what history and the laws of nature teach us although most political leaders are too arrogant to learn from history.

THE RICH GETTING RICHER

As empires reach the end game, money printing and debt accelerates as I show above. This leads to a total debasement of the currency. For example the Roman silver coin, the Denarius, lost almost 100% of its silver content between 180 and 280 AD.

The US dollar of the dying US empire has not fared much better and has lost 98% in real terms since 1971. As the currency collapses more and more fake money must be produced to keep the illusion going. By definition, money which is created without any service or goods offered in return is always fake and has zero real value.

During times of rapid credit expansion with fake money, the ones standing nearest the printing press always benefit greatly since they have access to the money before it totally loses its value. This happened for example during the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe or in Venezuela and it is now happening in the US.

The chart below clearly demonstrates how the wealthy Americans are getting the money first and rapidly increasing their wealth in relation to GDP. In 1982 the 400 wealthiest Americans had a wealth equal to 2% of GDP and today their share has risen 9-fold to 18% of GDP. Wealth inequality is rampant, becoming a neo-feudalism.

CONSEQUENCES –  PRECIOUS METALS & STOCKS

As debts, deficits and currency debasement accelerate, the consequences are crystal clear and inevitable.

The epic bubble in stocks is coming to an end and could implode at any time. Whether it expands further due to the massive expansion in money supply is irrelevant. Neither a company nor a country can show real growth based on fake money. When the bubble bursts, the world will learn that it consisted mainly of air that will just evaporate.

As the markets implode, so will all the debt and the bubble assets such as stocks, bonds and property. These asset values were all illusory, based on hope and fake money. Once the markets start breaking down, we will see the same process as the stadium above filling up with water. But this time it will be in reverse and values will decline by unthinkable percentages in the “first 5 minutes”. Remember that in the last 5 minutes, the stadium went from 7% full to 100% full.

For our investors and ourselves, we have owned physical gold and some physical silver in Switzerland (obviously outside the financial system) since 2002 when gold was $300 and silver $4.

We were convinced then that the risks we saw necessitated a high percentage of one’s financial assets in gold for wealth preservation purposes. What has happened since  completely confirms our position.

But the world has still not understood how undervalued gold is in relation to the massive expansion of money supply. Therefore I will continue to show the graph below which tells us that gold is as cheap to buy today as it was in 1971 when gold was $35 or in 2000 when gold
 was $288. In the face of the dying US empire, there is no better asset to own.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/12/2021 - 09:20
Published:9/12/2021 8:45:39 AM
[Markets] Reporters May Face 14 Years In Prison For 'Embarrassing' UK Government Officials Reporters May Face 14 Years In Prison For 'Embarrassing' UK Government Officials

People who believe President Obama abused his powers by cracking on journalists are about to be even more shocked by new rules being implemented in the UK. According to the Daily Mail, journalists could face prison sentences of up to 14 years for stories that embarrass the Government under plans to reform the Official Secrets Act.

According to changes to the interpretation of the UK's Official Secrets Act, which is being updated for the "Internet age" (which began more than 2 decades ago) and the fact that data can be transported instantaneously by Priti Patel's Home Office. Patel apparently is opposing a "public interest exemption" that would exclude journalists from being liable under the law.

Under these new provisions, reporters could face up to 14 years in prison for publishing "unauthorized" information in the supposedly "free" and "open" west.

But in a paper released during the consultation on the revisions, the Home Office argued that such a move would "undermine our efforts to prevent damaging unauthorized disclosures, which would not be in the public interest."

Critics of the changes, which include human-rights organizations and the Law Commission, argue that if they had been in effect at the time, they could have lead to the prosecution of the journalists who revealed this month that then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock was breaking COVID rules by having an affair with his married aide, because the scoop relied on leaked CCTV footage.

Already the government is facing backlash for its response to the leak. The Commissioner's Office faced criticism for having two homes searched as part of an investigation into how the information on Hancock leaked.

A Home Office spokesman denied that the changes would curtail press freedoms.

"Freedom of press is an integral part of the UK's democratic processes and the government is committed to protecting the rights and values that we hold so dear."

"It is wrong to claim the proposals will put journalists at risk of being treated like spies and they will, rightly, remain free to hold the government to account."

"We will introduce new legislation so security services and law enforcement agencies can tackle evolving state threats and protect sensitive data."

"However, this will be balanced to protect press freedom and the ability for whistleblowers to hold organizations to account when there are serious allegations of wrongdoing."

In a document explaining the changes, the Home Office argued that "the most serious" unauthorized press leaks can sometimes be even more damaging than when information is stolen for the purposes of espionage.

"As a result, we do not consider that there is necessarily a distinction in severity between espionage and the most serious unauthorised disclosures, in the same way that there was in 1989."

"Although there are differences in the mechanics of and motivations behind espionage and unauthorised disclosure offences, there are cases where an unauthorised disclosure may be as or more serious, in terms of intent and/or damage."

That leaves quite a bit of wiggle room for prosecutors to go after journalists by questioning the shadowy motives behind press leaks.

It's just the latest threat to emerge against European journalists. Just days ago, the UN commented on the growing use of digital surveillance using software like Pegasus, the surveillance software developed by Israel's NSO group, to spy on journalists and dignitaries alike.

There's definitely one thing the two sides can agree on: the nature of spying and information gathering has changed substantially since 1989, the last time these laws were updated.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/12/2021 - 07:35
Published:9/12/2021 6:42:28 AM
[] I'm Glad George W. Bush Was President on 9/11. Just Imagine the Alternatives. Published:9/11/2021 11:11:24 PM
[Entertainment] Joe and Jill Biden, Obamas and Clintons Reunite at 9/11 Memorial on 20th Anniversary of the Attacks Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Hillary ClintonPresident Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were joined by former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and their wives Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton as they honored the victims of the...
Published:9/11/2021 4:04:51 PM
[] 'Big mad' journos informed where Trump was in NYC during 9/11 ceremony attended by other presidents Published:9/11/2021 3:09:47 PM
[Entertainment] Michelle Obama Recalls the Morning of 9/11 With Her Daughters Malia and Sasha Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha ObamaMichelle Obama is remembering the 9/11 terrorist attacks--as a mother and not as a political figure. The former First Lady took to Instagram on Saturday, Sept. 11 to commemorate the 20th...
Published:9/11/2021 3:09:47 PM
[Markets] While Biden Joins 'Drone Club' At 9/11 Ceremonies, Trump Hits Streets Of NY While Biden Joins 'Drone Club' At 9/11 Ceremonies, Trump Hits Streets Of NY

While President Biden joined former presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton at 9/11 services held at the World Trade Center and Shanksville, Pennsylvania - a group which presided over the deaths of countless Middle Easterners over 20 years of undeclared "wars on terror" that benefited the US Homeland Security-Industrial Complex and a few others, former President Trump took to the streets of New York to shake hands with first responders.

It was quite the juxtaposition to say the least - with former President Bush pushing the 'domestic terrorism' and 'angry America' narrative during a speech in Shanksville (echoing Klaus Schwab), and images of Biden pulling down his mask to shout at someone...

Vs. President Trump being greeted by working men and women in uniform who won't go home to mansions after the 'ceremonies' are over.

More via Dan Scavino:

We can't imagine it would go as well for Biden and the other former presidents.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/11/2021 - 16:00
Published:9/11/2021 3:09:47 PM
[Afghanistan] Slain troops’ family members who shunned Biden take comfort from Trump (Paul Mirengoff) When George Bush was president, parents of armed service members killed in Iraq received special attention from the media if they denounced the war and criticized Bush. Cindy Sheehan gained a huge profile for bitterly attacking Bush after her son was killed. Eventually, she became a fringe figure, to put it as politely as I can, but this was only after Barack Obama succeeded Bush. Before then, the mantra on Published:9/11/2021 12:04:56 AM
[Markets] Buchanan: 20 Years After 9/11 - Are We Better Off? Buchanan: 20 Years After 9/11 - Are We Better Off?

Authored by Pat Buchanan,

When the hijacked planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that first 9/11, the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan and providing sanctuary for al-Qaida.

Today, the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan and providing sanctuary to al-Qaida.

What then did our longest war accomplish?

The Afghan army and government we stood up and sustained for decades has collapsed. The U.S. military has withdrawn. U.S. citizens and thousands of Afghans who fought alongside us have been left behind.

The triumphant Taliban of today are far stronger than were the Taliban of 2001 who fled at the approach of the Northern Alliance. Al-Qaida is now present in many more countries than it was when we first launched the Global War on Terror.

Nor is the America of 2021 the hubristic self-confident country of George W. Bush and the neocons who were going to convert the Middle East into something like our Middle West and advance from there “with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”

Our country is a changed place from 2001. Gone are the unity, confidence and resolution. And how have all our interventions gone?

Call the roll.

Afghanistan is a lost cause, receding anew into the darkness.

There are reports the Chinese may be interested in establishing a residence at Bagram Air Force Base.

Saddam Hussein is long gone. But the Iraq we invaded to strip of weapons of mass destruction it did not have is now dominated by Iranian-backed Shiite militia.

Only at the sufferance of the Baghdad regime are 2,500 “non-combat” U.S. troops permitted to hang on.

Syria, where we intervened to support anti-Assad rebels — and retain 900 U.S. troops — is a human rights hellhole.

Bashar Hafez al-Assad is victorious in his civil war thanks to Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah intervention on his behalf. The million Syrian refugees who fled west during that civil war have helped to turn Lebanon into a failed state.

In Libya, where Barack Obama’s air attacks helped bring down the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, Russians, Turks and Egyptians battle for control.

The Americans are nowhere to be found.

Despite our support for Saudi air strikes that turned Yemen into a second humanitarian disaster, Houthi rebels still control the north of the country and the capital, Sanaa.

Looking back at the half dozen Mideast wars in which we have engaged since that first 9/11, where are we better off now than we were then?

Al-Qaida, ISIS, Boko Haram and their variants have established a presence in Arab, Asian and African countries far beyond Afghanistan.

Looking forward, where do we Americans go from here?

How do we sustain all the commitments that have bled and drained us for 20 years, when our adversaries and enemies appear to be growing stronger, while our own claim to being the world’s last superpower is increasingly subject to challenge?

Like Donald Trump before him, Joe Biden appears to be giving up on nation building, pulling our troops out of the Middle East, staying out of its future wars, and addressing the challenges of Russia and China?

But how long can we defend a Europe that refuses to defend itself from a Russia that is stronger and more assertive than it was two decades ago, when Vladimir Putin succeeded the feckless Boris Yeltsin.

In the Arctic, Baltic, Belarus, Ukraine and the Black Sea, Putin is more assertive and Russia less intimidated than it was in 2001.

Only one in three NATO countries meets the commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defense, as Europeans today identify immigration as the major threat to the continent.

Among the malingerers is the Germany of Angela Merkel, retiring chancellor who approved the Nord Stream II pipeline that will soon double Germany’s dependence on Russia for natural gas.

How long can the U.S. sustain its new policy of containment of Xi Jinping’s China? How long can we contain China’s expansion in the South and East China Sea at the expense of the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan?

In the year 2000, China’s economy was smaller than Italy’s. Today, it is a peer-competitor of the United States, with four times our population.

Beijing manufactures more than we do, has a growth rate that has exceeded ours for decades, and runs an annual trillion-dollar trade surplus with us in produced goods.

And the China of 2021 is more aggressive and confrontational than was the China of Y2K. How long can we keep 30,000 troops in South Korea and remain responsible for deterring Kim Jong Un’s North Korea from attacking the South?

In relative terms, America is not so dominant a power as it was 20 years ago, while her adversaries seem stronger and more united. Our most powerful rival, Xi Jinping’s China, seems belligerent and bellicose compared with the China we brought into the World Trade Organization.

Looking back, and looking ahead, the trend line is not good.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/10/2021 - 17:01
Published:9/10/2021 4:26:13 PM
[] The Morning Report - 9/10/21 Good morning, kids. Friday, and after last night's performance wherein Barack Obama's words appeared to emanate from the maw of Joe Biden, much like projectile pea soup from Linda Blair, there can be absolutely no illusions about what we are... Published:9/10/2021 6:52:40 AM
[Markets] Iran's Nuclear Weapons Weeks Away? Iran's Nuclear Weapons Weeks Away?

Authored by Majid Rafizadeh via The Gatestone Institute,

Since the Biden administration assumed office, the nuclear talks with Iran have gone nowhere. Six rounds of negotiations have been concluded with no results. In contrast, two other issues have gone too far: the Biden administration's appeasement policies towards the Iranian regime, and the advancement of the mullahs' nuclear program.

When the Biden administration took office, it announced that it would curb Iran's nuclear program by returning to the 2015 nuclear deal -- known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which by the way Iran never signed -- and by subsequently lifting sanctions against the Iranian government.

Apparently desperate to revive the nuclear pact, the Biden administration at once began appeasing the ruling clerics of Iran. The first concession was delivered when the administration changed the previous administration's policy of maximum pressure toward Iran's proxy militia group, the Houthis. Even as the evidence -- including a report by the United Nations -- showed that the Iranian regime was delivering sophisticated weapons to the Houthis in Yemen, the Biden administration suspended some of the sanctions against terrorism that the previous administration had imposed on the Houthis.

Soon after, the Biden administration revoked the designation of Yemen's Houthis as a terrorist group. In addition, in June 2021, the Biden administration lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and several energy companies. Then, in a blow to the Iranian people and advocates of democracy and human rights -- a few days after the Iranian regime handpicked a mass murderer to be its next president -- the Biden administration announced that it was also considering lifting sanctions against Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

From the perspective of Iran's mullahs, Biden's desperate efforts to resurrect the nuclear deal manifested his weak leadership and therefore a delectable opportunity for Tehran to buy time, get more concessions, advance its nuclear program and become a nuclear state.

Notwithstanding all these policies of incentives and appeasements, Iran's mullahs continued to make excuses seemingly to drag out the nuclear talks. One of the latest overtures was that the world powers ought to wait until Iran's newly elected president, Ebrahim Raisi, took office before resuming the nuclear talks.

By now, Raisi has been president of Iran for more than a month but there has not been the slightest effort by the Islamic Republic to restart any talks; in fact, all the while, the regime appears to have accelerated its enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade. This escalation has even caused concerns among some European leaders and has, surprisingly, led the EU to pressure Tehran immediately to return to the negotiating table. "We vehemently ask Iran to return to the negotiating table constructively and as soon as possible. We are ready to do so, but the time window won't be open indefinitely" a ministry spokesperson from Germany warned.

After stating that they would resume talks when Raisi assumed office, Iran's leaders are now saying that they are not likely to restart the nuclear negotiations for another 2-3 months.

"the... government considers a real negotiation is a negotiation that produces palpable results allowing the rights of the Iranian nation to be guaranteed," Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said during an interview broadcast by Iran's state television.

He added that the nuclear talks are "one of the questions on the foreign policy and government agenda... the other party knows full well that a process of two to three months is required for the new government to establish itself and to start taking decisions."

As Iran's nuclear policy, however, is not set by the president or its foreign minister, this declaration sounded like just another excuse by the regime to buy time and advance enrichment. It is, of course, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who enjoys the final say in Iran's nuclear and foreign policy issues.

At the moment, the Iranian regime is reportedly 8-10 weeks away from obtaining the weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon.

"Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon," Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told ambassadors from countries on the United Nations Security Council during a briefing at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on August 4, 2021.

"Now is the time for deeds – words are not enough. It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds, otherwise the attacks will continue."

Once again it seems that the mullahs of Iran are masterfully playing the Biden administration and the EU by stalling the nuclear talks, buying time to get more concessions, and accelerating their enrichment of uranium and nuclear program to reach a weapons-grade nuclear breakout.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/10/2021 - 02:00
Published:9/10/2021 1:21:33 AM
[Markets] New Head Of Taliban Government Urges Afghan Ex-Officials To Return, Vows Their "Safety & Security" New Head Of Taliban Government Urges Afghan Ex-Officials To Return, Vows Their "Safety & Security"

Two days after being named as new acting prime minister for a Taliban caretaker government, Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund is urging former Afghan officials who fled to return to the country. He's vowing that the Taliban "will guarantee their security and safety" should they return and help in the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Akhund, who before being named head of state, was lesser known to the West than Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, named as deputy prime minister on Tuesday. According to a first exclusive interview given to Al Jazeera, Akhund further said "the caretaker government would guarantee the security of diplomats, embassies and humanitarian relief institutions, stressing that the group wanted to establish positive and strong relations with countries in the region and beyond."

"We have suffered huge losses in money and lives for this historical moment in the history of Afghanistan,” Akhund explained. "The stage of bloodshed, killing and contempt for people in Afghanistan has ended, and we have paid dearly for this."

He backed and reaffirmed prior Taliban assurances of "amnesty" for anyone returning to the country who previously helped the United States after 2001, despite most of these over the past weeks desperately trying the flee the country for fear they will be imprisoned or killed.

On this front, PM Akhund claimed there have been no revenge attacks or killings, given Taliban fighters are on orders to maintain discipline. "No one will be able to prove that he was subjected to revenge. And in such tense circumstances, it is easy to do what you want. But the movement is disciplined and controls its gunmen," he said"And, we have not harmed anyone because of his previous actions."

This contradicts widespread reports in Western media during the days following the final US troop exit from Kabul international airport on Aug.30 that Taliban gunmen had been going door to door in the capital city actively seeking past collaborators. However, these reports were largely based on the words of eyewitnesses and opposition testimony, which is hard to verify.

In the days of the US evacuation, widespread reports pointed to a revenge campaign...

Akhund continued in the interview: "Therefore, I assure the Islamic nation, especially the Afghan people, that we want all the good, the causes for success and welfare, and we seek to establish an Islamic system." He then urged for "everyone to participate with us in this blessed project."

Despite touting an "inclusive" government, international observers have criticized the Taliban for woeful lack of women in the new government; also a handful of top Taliban officials are actually internationally wanted terrorists, including militants who were formerly detained at Gitmo prison

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/09/2021 - 17:40
Published:9/9/2021 4:51:23 PM
[National Security] Top Biden Officials Backed the 2014 Bergdahl Deal. Now, the Terrorists Released Are Taking the Reins in Afghanistan.

When President Barack Obama struck a deal with the Taliban in 2014 to free several high-ranking terrorists being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, his defenders argued that the exchange would do little to harm U.S. national security. Now, four of those terrorists are serving in senior roles in Afghanistan’s newly formed Taliban government.

The post Top Biden Officials Backed the 2014 Bergdahl Deal. Now, the Terrorists Released Are Taking the Reins in Afghanistan. appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/9/2021 4:47:38 AM
[] 'Everything Is on the Line': Obama Wades Into California Recall Election Published:9/9/2021 1:50:43 AM
[Opinion] Afghanistan Goverment Brought to you by Bowe Bergdahl

by Ray Cardello -

  The Taliban will officially begin their government control of Afghanistan on Saturday. Their government was born in 2014 when Barack Obama swapped five Taliban terrorists from Guantanamo for Bowe Bergdahl, who was thought to be held captive by the Taliban. From the New York Post: “The United States of …

Afghanistan Goverment Brought to you by Bowe Bergdahl is posted on Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:9/8/2021 5:45:25 PM
[Political Cartoons] In Case Of Emergency Break Glass – Tina Toon

by Tina -

It’s hammer time! Our once great nation is crumbling. In nine short months the illegitimate Biden administration has overseen one failure after another. No one can fail like Biden. Even Prezzy Obama warned us. “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f— things up.” Well, heck of a job there Brownie, er …

In Case Of Emergency Break Glass – Tina Toon is posted on Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:9/8/2021 2:13:59 PM
[Politics] Four Taliban members Obama swapped for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl now part of Afghan government The four Taliban members Obama traded for Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted the US Army in 2009 in Afghanistan, are now officially working in the Taliban’s new government in Afghanistan: NY POST – . . . Published:9/8/2021 8:49:00 AM
[Markets] Bring All The Troops Home: Stop Policing The Globe And Put An End To Endless Wars Bring All The Troops Home: Stop Policing The Globe And Put An End To Endless Wars

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad. This is also the time to turn away from excessive preoccupation overseas to the rebuilding of our own nation. America must be restored to a proper role in the world. But we can do that only through the recovery of confidence in ourselves…. together we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.”

- George S. McGovern, former Senator and presidential candidate

It’s time to bring all our troops home.

Bring them home from Somalia, Iraq and Syria. Bring them home from Germany, South Korea and Japan. Bring them home from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman. Bring them home from Niger, Chad and Mali. Bring them home from Turkey, the Philippines, and northern Australia.

It’s not enough to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, America’s longest, bloodiest and most expensive war to date.

It’s time that we stop policing the globe, stop occupying other countries, and stop waging endless wars.

That’s not what’s going to happen, of course.

The U.S. military reportedly has more than 1.3 million men and women on active duty, with more than 200,000 of them stationed overseas in nearly every country in the world.

Those numbers are likely significantly higher in keeping with the Pentagon’s policy of not fully disclosing where and how many troops are deployed for the sake of “operational security and denying the enemy any advantage.” As investigative journalist David Vine explains, “Although few Americans realize it, the United States likely has more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation, or empire in history.”

Don’t fall for the propaganda, though.

America’s military forces aren’t being deployed abroad to protect our freedoms here at home. Rather, they’re being used to guard oil fields, build foreign infrastructure and protect the financial interests of the corporate elite. In fact, the United States military spends about $81 billion a year just to protect oil supplies around the world.

The reach of America’s military empire includes close to 800 bases in as many as 160 countries, operated at a cost of more than $156 billion annually. As Vine reports, “Even US military resorts and recreation areas in places like the Bavarian Alps and Seoul, South Korea, are bases of a kind. Worldwide, the military runs more than 170 golf courses.”

This is how a military empire occupies the globe.

After 20 years of propping up Afghanistan to the tune of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives lost, the U.S. military may have finally been forced out, but those troops represent just a fraction of our military presence worldwide.

In an ongoing effort to police the globe, American military servicepeople continue to be deployed to far-flung places in the Middle East and elsewhere.

This is how the military industrial complex, aided and abetted by the likes of Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and others, continues to get rich at taxpayer expense.

Yet while the rationale may keep changing for why American military forces are policing the globe, these wars abroad aren’t making America—or the rest of the world—any safer, are certainly not making America great again, and are undeniably digging the U.S. deeper into debt.

War spending is bankrupting America.

Although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world's population, America boasts almost 50% of the world's total military expenditure, spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined.

In fact, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

The American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth.

Since 2001, the U.S. government has spent more than $4.7 trillion waging its endless wars.

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $32 million per hour.

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year.

Future wars and military exercises waged around the globe are expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053.

Talk about fiscally irresponsible: the U.S. government is spending money it doesn’t have on a military empire it can’t afford.

As investigative journalist Uri Friedman puts it, for more than 15 years now, the United States has been fighting terrorism with a credit card, “essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

War is not cheap, but it becomes outrageously costly when you factor in government incompetence, fraud, and greedy contractors. Indeed, a leading accounting firm concluded that one of the Pentagon’s largest agencies “can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending.”

Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t much better for the spending that can be tracked.

A government audit found that defense contractor Boeing has been massively overcharging taxpayers for mundane parts, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overspending. As the report noted, the American taxpayer paid:

$71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents; $644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a 5,100 percent increase in price. $1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase. $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.

That price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire is a sad statement on how little control “we the people” have over our runaway government.

Mind you, this isn’t just corrupt behavior. It’s deadly, downright immoral behavior.

Americans have thus far allowed themselves to be spoon-fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda that keeps them content to wave flags with patriotic fervor and less inclined to look too closely at the mounting body counts, the ruined lives, the ravaged countries, the blowback arising from ill-advised targeted-drone killings and bombing campaigns in foreign lands, or the transformation of our own homeland into a warzone.

That needs to change.

The U.S. government is not making the world any safer. It’s making the world more dangerous. It is estimated that the U.S. military drops a bomb somewhere in the world every 12 minutes. Since 9/11, the United States government has directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000 human beings. Every one of those deaths was paid for with taxpayer funds.

The U.S. government is not making America any safer. It’s exposing American citizens to alarming levels of blowback, a CIA term referring to the unintended consequences of the U.S. government’s international activities. Chalmers Johnson, a former CIA consultant, repeatedly warned that America’s use of its military to gain power over the global economy would result in devastating blowback.

The 9/11 attacks were blowback. The Boston Marathon Bombing was blowback. The attempted Times Square bomber was blowback. The Fort Hood shooter, a major in the U.S. Army, was blowback.

The U.S. military’s ongoing drone strikes will, I fear, spur yet more blowback against the American people. The latest drone strike reportedly killed seven children, ages 2 to 10, in Afghanistan.

The war hawks’ militarization of America—bringing home the spoils of war (the military tanks, grenade launchers, Kevlar helmets, assault rifles, gas masks, ammunition, battering rams, night vision binoculars, etc.) and handing them over to local police, thereby turning America into a battlefield—is also blowback.

James Madison was right: “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” As Madison explained, “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”

We are seeing this play out before our eyes.

The government is destabilizing the economy, destroying the national infrastructure through neglect and a lack of resources, and turning taxpayer dollars into blood money with its endless wars, drone strikes and mounting death tolls.

Clearly, our national priorities are in desperate need of an overhauling.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

This is the “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex” that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us more than 50 years ago not to let endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, was alarmed by the rise of the profit-driven war machine that emerged following the war—one that, in order to perpetuate itself, would have to keep waging war.

We failed to heed his warning.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, there’s not much time left before we reach the zero hour.

It’s time to stop policing the globe, end these wars-without-end, and bring the troops home.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/08/2021 - 00:10
Published:9/7/2021 11:39:28 PM
[2021 News] 4 prisoners Obama exchanged for Bowe Berghdahl now in senior Taliban posts

4 prisoners Obama exchanged for Bowe Berghdahl now in senior Taliban posts. Were they prisoners in GITMO? Or taking war college classes and making side deals with Obama? According to the Afghan television network TOLOnews, the Taliban-formed government gave leadership positions to Mohammad Nabi Omari, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, and Mohammad Fazl; […]

The post 4 prisoners Obama exchanged for Bowe Berghdahl now in senior Taliban posts appeared first on IHTM.

Published:9/7/2021 4:43:16 PM
[Markets] Klobuchar Calls For Killing Of Filibuster Despite Demanding Its Full Restoration During Kavanaugh Confirmation Klobuchar Calls For Killing Of Filibuster Despite Demanding Its Full Restoration During Kavanaugh Confirmation

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

I have previously noted the curious positions of some senators who want to preserve the filibuster but only if it is not used to block legislation that they are demanding

For example, Sen. Angus King (I., Maine) has declared that he supports the filibuster but would kill it if it is used to block the federalization of elections.

The point of a filibuster is that forces compromise on divisive issues.

However, the relativistic position on the filibuster continued today with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.). The senator previously called for the preservation of the filibuster but now wants it killed after the Supreme Court last week declined to block a Texas abortion law.

I will not repeat my prior columns addressing misleading analysis on the Supreme Court order which neither upheld the Texas law nor overturned Roe v. Wade. However, the order has been used by Democrats to repeat demands for an array of radical reforms from packing the Court to killing the filibuster.

Sen. Klobuchar has responded by adding her own voice to the call for ending the filibuster. On Sunday, the Senator told CNN:

“So, my solution to this, which is my solution for voting rights and so many other things, including climate change, where one side of the country is in flames, the other side of the country is flooded, with people dying submerged in their cars, I believe we should abolish the filibuster. We just will get nowhere if we keep this filibuster in place.”

However, in 2013, Klobuchar was lamenting that the rule had ever been curtailed and said that she wished that the rule could be returned in full force. The reason? Brett Kavanaugh.

The move by Democrats to use the “nuclear option” led to the eventual removal of the rule for not just lower judges, but Supreme Court justices.  That meant it could not be used to block Kavanaugh so Klobuchar argued it would be good to resume for future such cases. In 2013, she went on a different Sunday show to declare: “I would’ve liked to see 60 votes, no matter what the judge is. I don’t think we should’ve made that change, when we look back at it. But it happened because we were so frustrated, because President Obama wasn’t able to get his nominees.”

She then expressed a preference to bring back the full rule without exceptions. In fairness to Klobuchar, she admitted that the damage was unlikely to be reversed and was supportive of the eventual compromise. However, we now have senators saying that they could support a filibuster rule so long as it is not used on climate change, infrastructure, voting rights, abortion, or other deeply divisive issues.

The point remains the same. 

Filibusters go back to ancient Rome as a device to force compromise. However, the point is not to create exceptions or to limit its use to block legislation of other members. As noted earlier, the rule has been used for different purposes, including, most infamously, to oppose 1950s civil rights legislation. Over the years, it has been modified, as in 1975 when the threshold to end a filibuster was reduced to 60 votes. However, both parties agreed that the rule was needed to force greater consensus in the Senate, which fashions itself “The world’s greatest deliberative body.”

There are good-faith arguments that filibusters frustrate democratic voting. However, this is arguably a time when the value of the rule is most evident and most compelling as a compromise-forcing legislative device. The Senate is split 50-50, a reflection of the country’s division. (The House is little better off, with a majority of just a handful of votes, the smallest majority since World War II.) That leaves Democrats struggling to pass bills based on the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Harris.

While politicians are notoriously for relativistic on such issues, the whole point of the filibuster is to maintain a consistent rule regardless of the subject matter of legislative action. Instead, members of Congress are arguing that they support the rule so long as it was not used to frustrate their own agenda.

The abortion issue remains deeply divisive in this country. Moreover, the public remains overwhelmingly opposed to court packing. If anything, these divisive times would favor rules designed to force compromise . . . without exception.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/07/2021 - 14:00
Published:9/7/2021 1:15:38 PM
[Markets] FOIA Release: Fauci Funded Construction Of 'Chimeric Coronaviruses' In Wuhan FOIA Release: Fauci Funded Construction Of 'Chimeric Coronaviruses' In Wuhan

When Dr. Anthony Fauci confidently screamed at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in July - calling him a liar for accusing him of funding so-called "Gain-of-Function" (GoF) research in Wuhan, China to make coronaviruses more transmissible to humans, the argument ultimately faded due to Fauci's unsupported claim that the research didn't technically fit the definition of GoF.

Now, thanks to materials (here and here) released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The Intercept against the National Institutes of Health (which were unredacted enough to toss Fauci under the bus), we now know that Fauci-funded EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit headed by Peter Daszak, was absolutely engaged in gain-of-function research to make chimeric SARS-based coronaviruses, which they confirmed could infect human cells.

Peter Daszak (left), Anthony Fauci

While evidence of this research has been pointed to in published studies, the FOIA release provides a key piece to the puzzle which sheds new light on what was going on.

"This is a roadmap to the high-risk research that could have led to the current pandemic," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right To Know, a group that has been investigating the origins of Covid-19 (via The Intercept).

Wuhan Institute of Virology Shi 'Bat Lady' Zhengli toasts with Fauci-funded EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak (emerging viruses group photo)

And as Rutgers University Board of Governors Chemistry Professor Richard H. Ebright notes, "The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful."

In short, Fauci lied to Congress when he denied funding Gain-of-Function (GoF) research.

Ebright summarized The Intercept's reporting in a Monday night Twitter thread:

Continued (emphasis ours):

"The trove of documents includes two previously unpublished grant proposals that were funded by the NIAID, as well as project updates relating to the EcoHealth Alliance’s research, which has been scrutinized amid increased interest in the origins of the pandemic."

The materials show that the 2014 and 2019 NIH grants to EcoHealth with subcontracts to WIV funded gain-of-function research as defined in federal policies in effect in 2014-2017 and potential pandemic pathogen enhancement as defined in federal policies in effect in 2017-present.

(This had been evident previously from published research papers that credited the 2014 grant and from the publicly available summary of the 2019 grant. But this now can be stated definitively from progress reports of the 2014 grant and the full proposal of the 2017 grant.)

The materials confirm the grants supported the construction--in Wuhan--of novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses that combined a spike gene from one coronavirus with genetic information from another coronavirus, and confirmed the resulting viruses could infect human cells.

(Recombinant DNA includes molecules constructed outside of living cells by joining natural or synthetic DNA segments to DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell, or molecules that result from their replication. -Science Direct)

The materials reveal that the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses also could infect mice engineered to display human receptors on cells ("humanized mice").

The materials further reveal for the first time that one of the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses--one not been previously disclosed publicly--was more pathogenic to humanized mice than the starting virus from which it was constructed...

...and thus not only was reasonably anticipated to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity, but, indeed, was *demonstrated* to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity.

The materials further reveal that the the grants also supported the construction--in Wuhan--of novel chimeric MERS-related coronaviruses that combined spike genes from one MERS-related coronavirus with genetic information from another MERS-related coronavirus.

The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful.

*  *  *

When asked in the replies where to find specific evidence on GoF research, user @SnupSnus replied:

Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute, said the documents show that the EcoHealth Alliance has reason to take the lab leak theory seriously. “In this proposal, they actually point out that they know how risky this work is. They keep talking about people potentially getting bitten — and they kept records of everyone who got bitten,” Chan said. “Does EcoHealth have those records? And if not, how can they possibly rule out a research-related accident?” -The Intercept

In response to inquiries from The Intercept, EcoHealth communications manager Robert Kessler replied: "We applied for grants to conduct research. The relevant agencies deemed that to be important research, and thus funded it. So I don’t know that there’s a whole lot to say."

Stay tuned, things should get really interesting for Fauci and Daszak in the near future.

To review the history of EcoHealth, Fauci and Gain-of-Function research which we noted in March

In 2014, Peter Daszak, president of New York-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, received a grant from Dr. Anthony Fauci's National Institutes of Health (NIH) to work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and others to research how bat coronaviruses can 'evolve and jump into the human population.'

Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance

The grant's initial funding of $666,442 began in June 2014 with an end date of May 2019, and had paid annually to the tune of $3.7 million under the "Understanding The Risk Of Bat Coronavirus Emergence" project. Notably, the Obama administration cut funding for "gain-of-function" research in October, 2014, four months after Daszak's contract began, while the Wuhan Institute of Virology "had openly participated in gain-of-function research in partnership with U.S. universities and institutions" for years under the leadership of Dr. Shi 'Batwoman' Zhengli, according to the Washington Post's Josh Rogin.

One of the grants, titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” outlines an ambitious effort led by EcoHealth Alliance president Peter Daszak to screen thousands of bat samples for novel coronaviruses. The research also involved screening people who work with live animals. The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed. The documents raise additional questions about the theory that the pandemic may have begun in a lab accident, an idea that Daszak has called “heinous.”

...

The grant was initially awarded for a five-year period — from 2014 to 2019. Funding was renewed in 2019 but suspended by the Trump administration in April 2020. -The Intercept

After Rogin exposed diplomatic cables last April expressing grave concerns over safety at WIV, he says: "many of the scientists who spoke out to defend the lab were Shi’s research partners and funders, like the head of the global public health nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak; their research was tied to hers, and if the Wuhan lab were implicated in the pandemic, they would have to answer a lot of tough questions."

In short, Daszak - who has insisted the 'lab escape' theory is impossible, and that random natural origin via intermediary animal species is the only answer - has a massive conflict of interest.

Further reading:

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/07/2021 - 06:54
Published:9/7/2021 6:05:08 AM
[Markets] Buchanan: Cacophony And Confusion In Foreign Policy Buchanan: Cacophony And Confusion In Foreign Policy

Authored by Pat Buchanan,

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the country was united behind him.

The America First Committee, the largest anti-war movement in our history, which had the backing of President Herbert Hoover and future Presidents John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford, was closing its doors and enlisting.

When President George W. Bush stood atop the ruins of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan after the attack of 9/11, the country was united behind him.

President Joe Biden, however, knows no such unity. Any foreign policy coalition he once had, any consensus he enjoyed, is gone.

Following the evacuation of 6,000 Americans and 118,000 Afghans from Kabul airport — a remarkable feat over two weeks by the U.S. military — Biden and his foreign policy team are taking fire from all sides.

Interventionists in both parties believe Biden’s decision to pull out all U.S. forces by Aug. 31 precipitated the collapse of the Afghan army and regime, which led to disaster and defeat in the “forever war.”

To the War Party, Biden “lost Afghanistan.”

Though the Trump wing of the GOP favored an earlier pullout, it has seized on the debacle of the withdrawal to inflict maximum damage on the president and party that “rigged” the vote and “stole” the election of 2020. Among the major media, Biden has sustained major defections.

Demands are being heard for the resignation or firing of his entire security team: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Their credibility is shot. Yet, as the country still supports the pullout from Afghanistan, what shattered the foreign policy consensus?

Answer:

  • The initial panic at Karzai International Airport.

  • Afghans clinging to the sides of departing planes.

  • A teenage boy caught in the wheel well.

  • Desperate Afghan friends trying to crash the gates.

  • The U.S. reliance on the Taliban to vet our citizens and allies at the airport.

  • The ISIS massacre of 13 American soldiers and wounding of 20 others, and the deaths of 150 Afghans by a suicide bomber.

  • Video of Biden checking his watch as coffins of the fallen were carried out of the plane at Dover. The U.S. drone strike on ISIS-K that killed 10 members of an extended Afghan family.

  • Finally, the “left behinds” — hundreds of U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans, all now potential hostages of a triumphant Taliban, with the Afghans facing the prospect of torture and murder.

All these stories, photos and videos are indelibly fixed in America’s mind and inextricably linked to Joe Biden. They will forever define his legacy. And they have created a coalition of opponents and critics that may be sufficient to block or impede any bold foreign policy decision Biden chooses to take.

This coalition, and what lies ahead for America, could cripple Biden’s capacity to conduct foreign policy and so discredit his team as to make it unable to speak for America on the world stage.

Has the ongoing Afghan debacle, by shattering the consensus on which Biden depended, induced a foreign policy paralysis?

Consider. Should al-Qaida or ISIS, energized by the U.S. humiliation in Afghanistan, choose to attack the 900 U.S. troops in Syria, or the 2,500 in Iraq, what would Biden do?

Retaliate? Send in more troops as needed if the fighting escalates? Or get out and end the U.S. involvement in these other forever wars?

What decision would be acceptable to Biden and his critics?

The shock of the U.S. defeat and retreat in Afghanistan has surely shaken Ukraine and Taiwan, if they believed they had some guarantee from America to come to their defense.

But would the American people be prepared to intervene militarily and assist Ukraine in a war with Russia over the Donbas or Crimea?

Would we be willing to face down China over its claim to Taiwan?

We are not obligated by treaty to come to the defense of either of those nations. And many Americans do not believe either cause is worth the cost of a war with a nuclear power such as Russia or China.

Bottom line: If Joe Biden, as commander in chief, draws a red line, what reason is there to believe the country will back him up if it comes to enforcing it?

President Barack Obama drew a red line against Syria’s use of chemical weapons in its civil war. When Syrian President Bashar Assad appeared to cross it, Obama called on the country to back him up in enforcing his red line.

Country and Congress refused. They wanted no part of Syria’s civil war, no matter what Assad was doing while fighting it.

And Obama? He did nothing.

August in Afghanistan may have shattered irredeemably the foreign policy consensus and coalition Biden could rely upon.

There is no guarantee today that the country will back up its commander in chief in doing what he deems necessary to the national security.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/04/2021 - 16:30
Published:9/4/2021 3:48:45 PM
[Markets] Why All The Fuss About Ivermectin? Why All The Fuss About Ivermectin?

Authored by Brian C. Joondeph via AmericanThinker.com,

First hydroxychloroquine, now ivermectin, is the hated deadly drug de jour, castigated by the medical establishment and regulatory authorities. Both drugs have been around for a long time as FDA-approved prescription medications. Yet now we are told they are as deadly as arsenic.

As a physician, I am certainly aware of ivermectin but don’t recall ever writing a prescription for it in my 30+ years’ medical career. Ivermectin is an anthelmintic, meaning it cures parasitic infections. In my world of ophthalmology, it is used on occasion for rare parasitic or worm infections in the eye.

Ivermectin was FDA approved in 1998 under the brand name Stromectol, produced by pharmaceutical giant Merck, approved for several parasitic infections. The product label described it as having a “unique mode of action,” which “leads to an increase in the permeability of the cell membrane to chloride ions.” This suggests that ivermectin acts as an ionophore, making cell membranes permeable to ions that enter the cell for therapeutic effect.

Ivermectin is one of several ionophores, others including hydroxychloroquine, quercetin, and resveratrol, the latter two available over the counter. These ionophores simply open a cellular door, allowing zinc to enter the cell, where it then interferes with viral replication, providing potential therapeutic benefit in viral and other infections.

This scientific paper reviews and references other studies demonstrating antibacterial, antiviral, and anticancer properties of ivermectin.

This explains the interest in this drug as having potential use in treating COVID.

Does ivermectin work in COVID?

I am not attempting to answer that question, instead looking at readily available information because this drug has been the focus of much recent media attention. For the benefit of any reader eager to report this article and author to the medical licensing boards for pushing misleading information, I am not offering medical advice or prescribing anything.  Rather, I am only offering commentary on this newsworthy and controversial drug.

What’s newsworthy about ivermectin? A simple Google search of most medications describes uses and side effects. A similar search of ivermectin provides headlines of why it shouldn’t be taken and how dangerous it is.

YouTube screen grab

The Guardian describes ivermectin as horse medicine reminding readers considering taking the drug, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow”, saying it’s a medicine meant for farm animals. The FDA echoed that sentiment in a recent tweet, adding “Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” their word choice making it obvious who the tweet was directed to.

Perhaps the FDA didn’t realize that Barack and Michelle Obama often used the term “y’all” and that some might construe the FDA tweet as racist.

The FDA says ivermectin “can be dangerous and even lethal,” yet they approved it in 1998 and have not pulled it from the market despite it being “dangerous and lethal.” Any medication can be “dangerous and lethal” if misused. People have even overdosed on water.

It is true that ivermectin is also used in animals, as are many drugs approved for human use.

This is a list of veterinary drugs with many familiar names of antibiotics, antihypertensives, and anesthetics commonly used by humans. Since these drugs are used in farm animals, should humans stop taking them? That seems a rather unscientific argument against ivermectin, especially coming from the FDA.

And healthcare professionals are not recommending or prescribing animal versions of ivermectin as there is an FDA-approved human formulation.

Does ivermectin work against COVID? That is the bigger question and worthy of investigation, rather than reminding people that they are not cows.

A study published several months ago in the American Journal of Therapeutics concluded,

Meta-analyses based on 18 randomized controlled treatment trials of ivermectin in COVID-19 have found large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance. Furthermore, results from numerous controlled prophylaxis trials report significantly reduced risks of contracting COVID-19 with the regular use of ivermectin. Finally, the many examples of ivermectin distribution campaigns leading to rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality indicate that an oral agent effective in all phases of COVID-19 has been identified.

To my knowledge, these 18 studies have not been retracted, unlike previous studies critical of hydroxychloroquine which were ignominiously retracted by prestigious medical journals like The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Yet the medical establishment refuses to even entertain the possibility of some benefit from ivermectin, castigating physicians who want to try it in their patients. 18 studies found benefit. Are they all wrong?

Podcaster Joe Rogan recently contracted COVID and recovered within days of taking a drug cocktail including ivermectin. Was it his drug cocktail, his fitness, or just good luck? Impossible to know but his experience will keep ivermectin in the news.

Highly unvaccinated India had a surge in COVID cases earlier this year which abruptly ended following the widespread use of ivermectin, over the objections and criticism of the WHO. In the one state, Tamil Nadu, that did not use ivermectin, cases tripled instead of dropping by 97 percent as in the rest of the country.

This is anecdotal and could have other explanations but the discovery of penicillin was also anecdotal and observational. Good science should investigate rather than ignore such observations.

The Japanese Medical Association recently endorsed ivermectin for COVID. The US CDC cautioned against it.

There is legal pushback as an Ohio judge ordered a hospital to treat a ventilated COVID patient with ivermectin. After a month on the ventilator, this patient is likely COVID free and ivermectin now will have no benefit, allowing the medical establishment to say “see I told you so” that it wouldn’t help.

By this point, active COVID infection is not the issue; instead, it is weaning off and recovery from long-term life support. The early hydroxychloroquine studies had the same flaw, treating patients too late in the disease course to provide or demonstrate benefit.

These drugs have been proposed for early outpatient treatment, not when patients are seriously ill and near death. Looking for treatment benefits in the wrong patient population will yield expected negative results.

Given how devastating COVID can be and how, despite high levels of vaccination in countries like the US, UK, and Israel, we are seeing surging cases and hospitalizations among the vaccinated, we should be pulling out all the stops in treating this virus.

Medical treatment involves balancing risks and benefits. When FDA-approved medications are used in appropriate doses for appropriate patients, prescribed by competent physicians, the risks tend to be low, and any benefit should be celebrated. Instead, the medical establishment, media, and regulatory authorities are taking the opposite approach. One has to wonder why.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/04/2021 - 15:30
Published:9/4/2021 2:45:34 PM
[Markets] Luongo: Breaking The Empire Means Breaking With The Saudis Luongo: Breaking The Empire Means Breaking With The Saudis

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

To say that Saudi Arabia has been the lynchpin to U.S. foreign policy objectives in the Middle East and central Asia is to engage in massive understatement.

For more than fifty years the Saudis have helped prop up U.S. foreign policy by exporting their oil to the world and taking only dollars in return.

Their currency, the Riyal, has been pegged to the U.S. dollar since then Secretary of State under President Nixon, Henry Kissinger, brokered that deal that built the so-called petrodollar system.

Now, in the intervening decades the petrodollar has been a buzzword thrown around by many, including myself, to explain the architecture of the U.S.’s imperial ambitions. In many ways, it has served a crucial part of that, at times. But, it was most needed during the early years of the dollar reserve standard, helping to legitimize this new currency regime and provide a market for U.S. debt around the world to replace gold.

After that it was just one aspect of a much bigger game built on the ever-expanding Ponzi scheme of fake funny money. In reality, the eurodollar shadow banking system is just a lot bigger than the petrodollar.

That said, I don’t discount it completely, as I understand this is real money changing hands for real goods, rather than the vast quantities of dollars out there supporting an increasingly creaky financialized system. Real trade matters and what currency that trade occurs in, also matters.

The U.S. closely defended the petrodollar famously going to war with any country that dared to offer oil on international markets in any currency other than the dollar, c.f. Iraq under Saddam Hussein. But, times change and so do the structure of capital markets.

So, when evaluating the health of the petrodollar system and its importance today it’s important to realize that the oil market is far more fragmented in payment terms than its been since the early 1970’s.

As a system, the petrodollar was always going to die a death of a thousand cuts. To my reckoning the first inklings of this began in late 2012 after President Obama finally used the financial nuclear weapon, expulsion from the SWIFT payment system, on Iran for pretty much no reason.

Earlier this year I wrote a piece describing why in negotiations you never go nuclear and how Obama made the biggest strategic blunder, possibly in U.S. history, by first threatening the Swiss over bank secrecy and then Iran.

The fact that the Obama administration politicized SWIFT when it did ended an era of international finance. The world financial system ended any illusions it had over who was in charge and who dictated what terms.

The problem with that is once you go there, there’s no going back, which was {Jim} Sinclair’s point over a decade ago.

Threatening Switzerland with SWIFT expulsion wasn’t a sign of strength, however, it was a sign of weakness. Only weak people bully their friends into submission. It showed that the U.S. had no leverage over than the Swiss other than SWIFT, a clear sign of desperation.

And that’s what the U.S. did when it pushed the big red ‘history eraser’ button.

The Swiss knuckled under. Its vaunted banking privacy is now a part of history.

Iran, however, in 2012, facing a similar threat from Obama, didn’t knuckle under and forced Obama to make good on his threat. Once you uncork the nuclear weapon you can’t threaten with lesser weapons, they have no sway. This is a lesson Donald Trump would learn the hard way since 2018.

Iran bucked the petrodollar to sell its oil by making a goods-for-oil swap arrangement with India. Iran was laughed at by U.S. foreign policy wonks at the time. Then we found out that Turkey was laundering oil sales for Iran through its banks using gold.

Its currency, the Rial, since then has been under constant attack by the U.S., most viciously under President Trump who sought to do what Obama couldn’t do, drive Iran’s oil exports to zero. The goal was regime change.

I chronicled this in detail, over these past four years, saying explicitly that the strategy was stupid and short-sighted. It didn’t work. It couldn’t work.

Iran’s resistance to Trump’s bullying only further entrenched the existing power structures there and hardened the Iranian people to become more disagreeable, more disdainful of America and, likely, Americans.

All it did was force Iran to develop alternate plans and find new markets. Those alternatives meant courting better relations with China, Russia and Turkey, which the U.S. tried hard to sabotage. As long as Iran was as good as its word, supplying oil and acting as a reliable partner in diplomacy, eventually deals would come to them.

Last year’s $400 billion, 20-year investment from China is the culmination of that resistance and ingenuity. That’s the whirlwind wrought by Trump’s pro-Israel, anti-Iran and confused Syria/Afghanistan policies.

In the intervening years, the U.S. sanctioned Russia who sells their oil, a lot of it, in a number of different currencies, some of which are still dollars. China began a yuan-denominated oil futures contract a few years ago, which is ultimately convertible to gold in Shanghai.

The U.S. still trades with China and Russia and yet no one who called for the death of the petrodollar then was right. These things are a process, not a step-function. The point being that the petrodollar isn’t dependent on it being a monopsony in oil trading. The system has been leaking for nearly a decade now.

Iran is an example of why Davos will fail to pull off anything more than the most limited form of their Great Reset. So is Russia. Necessity is the mother of innovation. Putin makes this point all the time. And he, like the Mullahs in Iran, were laughed at by the U.S. foreign policy wonks on K Street.

But, this article isn’t about Iran or Russia or China. It’s about Saudi Arabia.

Now that Afghanistan is all but settled in the geopolitical sense now the question is all about the fallout from it. For years we’ve seen the coalition that intended to atomize Syria splinter, bit by bit. First it was Qatar, who defied Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), who was isolated just like Iran. Qatar survived.

Then it was Turkey, constantly flipping and flopping around under President Erdogan trying to fill the power voids left as Russia’s military successes in Syria and diplomatic successes around the region frustrated U.S., NATO and Israeli plans there.

Slowly, bit by bit, Russia and China moved into those spaces while Erdogan tried and failed…. over and over and over again.

So, with the U.S.’s presence in Afghanistan now, officially, part of history, big changes are coming to the entire region fast and furious.

And the biggest one was the vague but significant defense coordination deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Because now, after having wormed its way into control over the marginal barrel of oil produced globally Russia controls OPEC+. It’s a nominal power-sharing agreement with the Saudis, but ultimately, with Trump out of the picture, the Saudis realized they have very few, if any, friends left in the world.

I went on this history lesson to remind you that this moment didn’t just happen. It was built over a decade of U.S. foreign policy mistakes. Mistakes that tried to extend the benefits and the narrative of the petrodollar for far longer than it should have.

The system should have died years ago. But it’s limped along indulging MbS’s bloodlust in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Rather than subsidizing U.S. foreign policy goals, it subsidized the Saudi Royal family’s continued delusion that it was a global power broker.

That continued until Trump was overthrown and Biden was installed. Since then MbS and the rest of the House of Saud understood what their future looked like and in whose hands it was.

Russia’s.

We’ve seen negotiations behind the scenes between Riyadh and Tehran, between Riyadh and Damascus. Syria is coming back into the Arab League. Iran and the Saudis are winding down the disastrous conflict in Yemen.

The time to sue for peace was at hand and to find a way forward that ensured relative stability. So, how does the petrodollar fit into this?

For now it doesn’t. Those thinking that the petrodollar is dead because of this deal are getting way ahead of themselves. With oil prices in the $70’s (Brent crude) there is no immediate threat to the future of the Saudi government. They can handle a mild budget deficit at these prices for a long time. There is no pressure on the Riyal peg at these prices.

What they cannot handle is oil in the $30’s or $40’s for any length of time. That is what blows out the budget deficit.

So, for now, as long as the U.S. doesn’t further antagonize MbS there is no reason why what’s left of the petrodollar can’t remain in place.

to that end, that bane of Davos’ existence, Southfront.org whose distribution is heavily censored by Big Tech, is speculating that the U.S. could sanction Saudi Arabia for this agreement with Russia.

The United States is urging its allies to avoid major defense deals with Russia, a State Department spokesman said, commenting on the signing of a military cooperation agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“We continue to urge all our partners and allies to avoid major new deals with the Russian defense sector, which we have made clear with … the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA),” the spokesman told Russian state outlet RIA.

While this is speculation, it is on target however, because this statement from the State Dept. came before the Saudis sat down and signed an agreement with the Russians during the height of the U.S.’s shameful and shambolic retreat from Kabul.

As insults go in geopolitics, this was a pretty big one.

So, that will be the next shoe to drop here. If I’m right and the goal of those behind the Biden Administration (itself with a use-by date similar to that of the petrodollar) is to dismantle the U.S. as much as possible, then we will see Lindsey Graham and others wring their blood-soaked hands in grief lamenting the necessity of sanctioning our long-term friends in Saudi Arabia.

It will be as nauseating as it is predictable.

And that will be a willful act of destruction of a still-significant portion of foreign demand for the U.S. dollar. This, of course, plays directly into the hands of Davos who are actively undermining confidence in the U.S. politically, economically, culturally and socially. Because the minute the U.S. does this MbS’s only rational move is to break the Riyal’s peg to the dollar and allow it to float freely.

At $70 per barrel the effect on the Riyal will be minimal.

That said, it would allow for a sharp drop in oil prices internationally as the Saudis, who have needed a strong oil price to fund its domestic welfare state, will no longer need as many dollars for its oil to do that. So, expect Davos to try to help this along. Well, they already tried when the UAE tried to torpedo OPEC+’s solidarity a few weeks back.

If oil were to drop sharply, say into the $40’s, it would create massive inflation in Saudi Arabia due to a sharp drop in the now-exposed-to-market-forces Riyal. And the Saudis would then have to go through the same painful adjustment that Russia went through in 2015-17, when it finally ended its strong ruble policy.

This is why Biden is told to beg publicly for lower oil prices. It has nothing to do with helping American consumers and has everything to do with baiting out the Arab countries to de-peg their currencies from the petrodollar and hope to crash oil prices in the confusion.

So, cue the Mu variant of COVID-9/11.

The Saudis, however, for their part have learned the lessons well what happens when you get into a price war with Russia. You lose. So, instead of fighting Russia for market share, they’ve decided to coordinate production for the big win-win for everyone while the U.S. continues to grapple with the reality that its empire is not only crumbling, but being actively dismantled from within.

And given where we’re headed, I’d say that the ones laughing now aren’t at the State Department.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 09/03/2021 - 23:00
Published:9/3/2021 10:12:39 PM
[Markets] Chase Bank Apologizes For Canceling Michael Flynn’s Credit Card, Claims It Was A Mistake Chase Bank Apologizes For Canceling Michael Flynn’s Credit Card, Claims It Was A Mistake

Via Human Events,

In a move possibly triggered by news and social media pressures, Chase Bank has walked back its cancelation of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s credit card. 

As previously reported by Human Events News, Flynn, former Trump National Security Adviser and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration, shared to Telegram a letter from Chase Bank notifying him that his credit cards will be cancelled. 

After careful consideration, we decided to close your credit cards on September 18, 2021 because continuing the relationship creates possible reputational risk to our company,” the update read.

“Chase Bank has gone full-blown woke!” Flynn posted.

Now, just days after Flynn let the internet know, Chase is walking their virtue-signaling move back, claiming the letter was sent by mistake. The account holder was Flynn’s wife, Lori, the Daily Mail reports. 

We’ve contacted our customer to let her know that we made an error,” a spokesperson for the bank said.

And we apologized for any inconvenience this caused.” 

Flynn addressed the situation again on Telegram Monday, per Yahoo News. 

“I pray Chase Bank and all their cancel culture partners think twice about what they are doing to destroy the fabric of our constitution,” he wrote.

“Trust me, the heart and soul of America will NEVER be broken. We the people will prevail.”

As a reminder, the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was able to use his accounts with the same bank after he was convicted of soliciting child prostitutes.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/03/2021 - 19:00
Published:9/3/2021 6:10:39 PM
[Markets] AOC Slams Biden's Decision To Nominate Rahm Emanuel To Ambassador Post AOC Slams Biden's Decision To Nominate Rahm Emanuel To Ambassador Post

AOC took a break from trying to sabotage Jerome Powell's re-nomination as Fed chairman to issue a scathing statement attacking one of the sleaziest personalities to ever be associated with the Democratic Party: Rahm Emanuel, the former Mayor of Chicago, who has been nominated to become the next US ambassador to Japan.

In her statement, AOC slammed the Biden Administration for backing Emanuel, who infamously helped to cover up the police killing of unarmed teenager Laquan McDonald.

"This nomination is deeply shameful," AOC said in the statement. "As mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald - a mere teenager when he was shot 16 times in the back by a Chicago Police Officer. This alone should be flatly disqualifying for any position of public trust, let alone representing the United States as an ambassador."

Emmanuel was elected to Congress from Illinois' 5th District after serving as a special advisor to President Bill Clinton. He later served as President Obama's chief of staff during his first term, before leaving to return to his own political career. He was elected mayor of heavily Democratic Chicago in 2011.

n 2015, Emanuel was implicated in the alleged cover-up of the police shooting of McDonald after video revealed that the police department's initial story was untrue. McDonald was walking away when he was shot by a Chicago police officer, who fired a barrage of 16 shots that continued even after he collapsed. That officer was convicted of murdering him and is serving a nearly seven-year sentence.

This incident further embittered American progressives toward Emmanuel. And now, the most popular progressive politician in America (judging by social media following) is doing everything in her power to make sure he never returns to a career in public service.

"That the Biden administration seeks to reward Emanuel with an ambassadorship is an embarrassment and betrayal of the values we seek to uphold both within our nation and around the world," she said. "I urge the Senate to vote NO on his confirmation."

We imagine that serving as an ambassador for the duration of the Biden Administration would be tantamount to a cushy retirement for Emmanuel, whose political star has fallen since leaving the mayor's office in Chicago. Now, he might not even be able to manage that.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/01/2021 - 14:15
Published:9/1/2021 1:22:38 PM
[World] Joe Biden's brain and mouth are completely disconnected

Presidents are cool.

Barack Obama was so cool he was dubbed "The Chosen One," and the media, as he once said, got all "wee-weed up" whenever he delivered his poetic prose.

"Decider" George W. Bush handily defeated two Democrats -- even though he was widely despised and mocked by the ... Published:8/31/2021 7:21:46 PM

[Markets] The War In Afghanistan Is What Happens When McKinsey Types Run Everything The War In Afghanistan Is What Happens When McKinsey Types Run Everything

Authored by Matt Stoller via BIG Substack,

Welcome to BIG, a newsletter about the politics of monopoly. If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here

"The Pervasiveness of Over-Optimism"

An Afghan General blames defense contractors for the collapse of the Afghan army. A government inspector blames the "the pervasiveness of overoptimism" by U.S. generals. It's all that, and more.

In 2017, Netflix put out a satirical movie on the conflict in Afghanistan. It was titled War Machine, and it starred Brad Pitt as an exuberant and deluded U.S. General named Glen McMahon. A fitness fanatic nicknamed ‘the Glanimal’ by his crew of adoring frathouse henchmen, McMahon is modeled on the real-life military leader Stanley McChrystal, who ran the surge in Afghanistan before being fired for saying disparaging things about Obama administration officials (including then VP Biden) on the record to Rolling Stone magazine.

In War Machine, McMahan comes to Afghanistan with a spirited can do attitude and a frat house of hard-partying yes-men, after having ‘kicked Al Qaeda in the sack’ running special operations in Iraq. He is obsessed with inspirational speeches and weird bureaucratic box-ticking, under the amorphous concept of leadership. This kind of leadership, though, isn’t actually working with wisdom and foresight, but is more like management consulting. Prior to arriving in Afghanistan, for instance, McMahan created a system, with the acronym SNORPP to coordinate military assets. At night, he cozies down to read books on management excellence, the kind that Harvard Business Review publishes as sort of Chicken Soup for the Executive’s Soul. He is also the author of a fictional book with the amazing title, “One Leg At a Time: Just Like Everybody Else.”

And yet his mission is unwinnable, which everyone seems to understand except him and his small team. McMahan constantly makes awkward speeches that make no sense, with the tone used by untrusted executives at corporate retreats. “We are here to build, to protect, to support the civilian population,” he told his troops. “To that end, we must avoid killing it at all costs. We cannot help them and kill them at the same time, it just ain’t humanly possible.” His character reflects what the actual government watchdog charged with overseeing the war in Afghanistan called one of the central problems with the U.S. effort, "the pervasiveness of over-optimism:"

If McMahan himself is a naive fool, he is surrounded by cynical bureaucratic opponents. As he seeks support for his new strategy of putting troops in Taliban-held provinces, he is gently ignored by the President of Afghanistan, who is a drug-addicted hypochondriac, and mocked by State Department and national security apparatchiks, who are striving cynics urging McMahon to just falsify numbers to make the war look a little better and not embarrass President Obama. Troops on the ground are demoralized and confused. No one actually believes in the mission, but dammit, McMahon is gonna get it done, whatever ‘it’ is. When McMahon tries to give an inspirational speech to ordinary Afghanis in Taliban-controlled territory about how the U.S. is going to bring them jobs and schools, one responds by saying he like jobs and schools, but please go away so the Taliban won’t retaliate. “The longer you are here the worse for us. Please go.”

It’s a hilarious, and extraordinarily dark movie. It also rang true, because it was based on the work of no-bullshit journalist Michael Hastings, who was perhaps the most honest reporter about the military establishment. And, as life is true to fiction, McChrystal, the general who Hastings profiled in Rolling Stone with an embarrassing story that led to his resignation, is now a management consultant (and board member of defense contractors). He runs inspirational ‘leadership training’ at the McChrystal Group, which is McKinsey with military branding.

In fact, McChrystal and much of our military leadership is tight with consultants like McKinsey, and that whole diseased culture from Harvard Business School of pervasive over-optimism and finance-venture capital monopoly bro-a-thons. McKinsey itself had involvement in Afghanistan, with at least one $18.6 million contract to help the Defense Department define its “strategic focus,” though government watchdogs found that the "only output [they] could find" was a 50-page report about strategic economic development potential in Herat, a province in western Afghanistan.” It turns out that ‘strategic focus’ means an $18.6 million PowerPoint. (There was reporting on this contract because Pete Buttigieg worked on it as a junior analyst at McKinsey, and he has failed upward to run the Transportation Department.)

I bring War Machine up because of today’s debate over Afghanistan. While there is a lot of back and forth about whether intelligence agencies knew that the Taliban would take over, or what would happen if we left, or whether the withdrawal could be done more competently, all you had to do to know that this war was a shitshow based on deception and idiocy at all levels was to turn on Netflix and watch this movie. Or you could read any number of inspector general reports, leaked documents, articles, talk to any number of veterans, or use common sense, which, polling showed, most Americans did. (Marine vet Lucas Kunce gives a nice rundown of the problem in this interview). I mean, it’s not like a major international media outlet printed a multi-part expose, which became a handy book, detailing the fact that everyone running the show knew it was an unwinnable mess nearly a decade ago. Oh, wait

In other words, the war in Afghanistan is like seeing management consultants come to your badly managed software company where everyone knows the problem is the boss’s indecisiveness and cowardice, except it’s violent and people die.

I mean, U.S. military leaders, like bad consultants or executives, lied about Afghanistan to the point it was routine. Here are just a few quotes from generals and DOD spokesmen over the years on the strength of the Afghan military, which collapsed almost instantly after the U.S. left.

In 2011, General David Petraeus stated, “Investments in leader development, literacy, marksmanship and institutions have yielded significant dividends. In fact, in the hard fighting west of Kandahar in late 2010, Afghan forces comprised some 60% of the overall force and they fought with skill and courage.”

In 2015, General John Campbell said that the the Afghan Army had “proven themselves to be increasingly capable,” that they had “grown and matured in less than a decade into a modern, professional force,” and, further, that they had “proven that they can and will take the tactical fight from here.”

In 2017, General John Nicholson stated that Afghan security forces had “prevailed in combat against an externally enabled enemy,” and that the army’s “ability to face simultaneity and complexity on the battlefield signals growth in capability.”

On July 11, 2021, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the Afghan army has “much more capacity than they’ve ever had before, much more capability,” and asserted, “they know how to defend their country.”

Basically, look at this photo below, imagine them in camouflage, and that’s the U.S. military leadership.

The Withdrawal Anger Is *Embarrassment*

There are significant recriminations over the embarrassing media stories on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, tremendous anger that political leaders like Trump and Biden made significant mistakes in how they withdrew U.S. forces. Many of these critiques, coming from Europeans as much as American elites, are in bad faith.

Nonetheless, rather than weighing in on the merits of these arguments, I think it’s better to look at how the establishment observed a stark portrait of Afghanistan before the withdrawal, to show that the current critiques have nothing to do with operational choices.

To that end, let’s look at a review of War Machine in Foreign Policy magazine, written by one of McChrystal’s aides, Whitney Kassel, who now works at private intelligence firm The Arkin Group. In this review, Kassel noted the movie made her so upset that she started cursing, because, while there were of course mistakes, the film was totally unfair to McChrystal and demeaned the entire mission of building a safe Afghanistan. Kassel, like most of these elites, didn’t get the joke, because she is the joke.

I see the discourse on the withdrawal as a super-sized version of this Kassel’s review. The ‘Blob,’ that loose network of diplomats, ex-diplomats, generals, lobbyists, defense contractors, fancy lawyers, famous journalists, and insiders see the obvious desire for withdrawal as similar to how Kassel saw the truth-telling of Hastings and the Netflix movie. They are angry and embarrassed that they can’t hide their failures anymore. Their entire sense of self was bound up in the idea of an illusion of an unbeatable all-powerful America, even when they, like General Glen “the Glanimal” McMahon were the only ones who believed it.

And their embarrassment covers up something even more dangerous. None of these tens of thousands of Ivy league encrusted PR savvy highly credentialed prestigious people actually know how to do anything useful. They can write books on leadership, or do powerpoints, or leak stories, but the hard logistics of actually using resources to achieve something important are foreign to them, masked by unlimited budgets and public relations. It is, as someone told me in 2019 about the consumer goods giant Proctor and Gamble, where “very few white-collar workers at P&G really did anything” except take credit for the work of others.

Defense Monopolies and the Afghan Army

It’s fun to act like it was always thus, that this is how empires behave. But in fact, that’s not true. The current Blob is relatively new. And believe it or not, Western forces used to be able to actually win wars.

Going back to the last significant victory, the allies won World War II in large part for two reasons. First, the Soviet Union sacrificed 27 million people defeating the Nazis, and second, the U.S. military, government, labor, and business leaders were exceptionally good at logistics. The U.S. military had at least a dozen suppliers for each major weapons system, as well as the ability to produce its own weaponry, the government had exceptional insight into the U.S. economy, and New Dealers had destroyed the power of the Andrew Mellon and J.P. Morgan style short-term oriented financiers and monopolists who had controlled the industrial sinews of the country.

Today, this short-termism has taken over everything, including the military, which is now dominated by McKinsey-ified glory hounds without wisdom and defense contractors with market power. And this leadership class hasn’t just eroded our strategic capacity, but the very ability to conduct operations. Two days ago, Afghan General Sami Sadat published a piece in the New York Times describing why his army fell apart so quickly. He went through several important political reasons, but there was an interesting subtext about the operational capacity of a military that is so dependent on contractors for sustainment and repairs. In particular, these lines stuck out.

Contractors maintained our bombers and our attack and transport aircraft throughout the war. By July, most of the 17,000 support contractors had left. A technical issue now meant that aircraft — a Black Hawk helicopter, a C-130 transport, a surveillance drone — would be grounded.

The contractors also took proprietary software and weapons systems with them. They physically removed our helicopter missile-defense system. Access to the software that we relied on to track our vehicles, weapons and personnel also disappeared.

It’s just remarkable that contractors removed software and weapons systems from the Afghan army as they left. Remember, U.S. generals constantly talked about the strength of the Afghan forces, but analysts knew that its air force - on which it depended - would fall apart without contractors. The generals probably hadn’t really thought about the logistical problems of what dependence on contracting means. It’s just stunning that NATO forces would be trying to stand up an independent Afghan army, even as NATO contractors disarmed that army due to contracting arrangements.

I suspect the problem isn’t simply related to Afghanistan, because these kinds of problems are not isolated to the Afghan army. Last month, I noted that American soldiers are constantly complaining that bad contracting terms prevent them from fixing and using their own equipment, just as Apple stops consumers from repairing or tinkering with their iPhones. In 2019, Marine Elle Ekman noted that these problems are pervasive in the U.S. military.

Besides the broken generator in South Korea, I remembered working at a maintenance unit in Okinawa, Japan, watching as engines were packed up and shipped back to contractors in the United States for repairs because “that’s what the contract says.” The process took months.

With every engine sent back, Marines lost the opportunity to practice the skills they might need one day on the battlefield, where contractor support is inordinately expensive, unreliable or nonexistent…

While a broken generator or tactical vehicle may seem like small issues, the implications are much larger when a combat ship or a fighter jet needs to be fixed. What happens when those systems break somewhere with limited communications or transportation? Will the Department of Defense get stuck in the mud because of a warranty?

No one is invading the U.S., so these problems aren’t immediately obvious to most of us. Yet, with the collapse of the Afghan army, now we see an example of what happens when a military is too dependent on contractors, and that support system is removed (which adversaries could do to the U.S. military if they pursue certain strategies.) It turns out that the cost of not being able to repair your own equipment is losing wars.

More fundamentally, the people who are in charge of the governing institutions in our society are simply divorced from the underlying logistics of what makes them work. Everything, from the Boeing 737 Max to the opioid epidemic to the waste inside most big corporations to war, has been McKinsey-ified. And it’s all covered up with moral outrage, partisanship and culture warring, public relations, and management wisdom bullshit.

I’ll finish on a note of optimism. This loss in Afghanistan, while hugely embarrassing, could serve as a wake-up call. After the loss in Vietnam, a group of military officers, led by John Boyd, one of the greatest American military strategists in U.S. history, created a military reform movement, to change the way the Pentagon developed and used weapons, and they made enormous progress in restructuring key parts of the defense establishment. (One of the members of Boyd’s “Fighter Mafia,” Pierre Sprey, the man responsible for the remarkable A-10 Warthog, just passed away.) Similarly, the British, after losing the American Revolution, radically reformed their corrupt and antiquated systems of governance. Losing wars is a great spur to reform. It means that we as a society get to look at ourselves honestly. We may choose not to act on what we see, but we do in fact have the opportunity. And that’s not nothing.

UPDATE: I'd like to apologize to Whitney Kessel. She is no longer at the Arkin Group. After a stint at Palantir, she ended up at Morgan Stanley, where she is now the Head of Cyber Event Management for North America, which is not at all a highly paid fake job full of make work.

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/30/2021 - 23:00
Published:8/30/2021 10:14:06 PM
[Markets] Our Afghan Nightmare: Tanks For Nothin' Our Afghan Nightmare: Tanks For Nothin'

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com,

Afghanistan has been reinvented as the best-equipped terrorist nation in the world, basking in the prestige of humiliating the world’s superpower...

Joe Biden’s scripted or no-questions press conferences, and the clean-up afterward by Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, and Jen Psaki, have been some of the most misleading episodes in modern presidential history—mostly in what was not said rather than was exaggerated, warped, and misrepresented. 

Biden as Commander-in-Chief

The more Joe Biden mutters “The buck stops here” or “I take full responsibility,” the more we know he will not - and not just because of his now reduced mental state, but because 1) he repeats the same opportunist messaging that he has for the last 50 years of his political career, and 2) the only true thing he could say was “I ordered a withdrawal in the most reckless manner in U.S. military history.”

When Biden then blames Donald Trump, it raises the immediate questions: 

1) If the Afghanistan deal was so flawed, why did Biden stick with it, given his other radical departures from what he inherited on the border, on fossil fuels, on the Middle East—on just about everything before January 20, 2021? 

2) So, was it good or bad to withdraw all U.S. troops? Was Trump wrong to have bequeathed him a policy of graduated withdrawal, but Biden was right to have continued it for a while—only to have accelerated it into surrender and flight?

3) Why did the violence erupt on Biden’s rather than on Trump’s watch? And was his order for a hasty flight in the dead of night from Bagram Air Base also the inherited Trump departure plan?

When Joe Biden now threatens al-Qaeda, ISIS-K, and others with revenge, he sounds, unfortunately, more like the ridiculous Joe of “Corn Pop” braggadocio with his weaponized chain, or Joe taking Trump behind the gym to womp on him, or young Joe Biden slamming the mouthy kid’s head on the lunch counter. Speaking softly with a club is preferable to being loud with a twig.

We have all heard, ad nauseam, too many of Biden’s He-Man stories. The latest rhetoric does not hide the fact that Biden had opposed the Osama bin Laden raid, criticized the termination of Qasem Soleimani, left Afghanistan in the most shameful retreat in U.S. history, and is now begging the Saudis to pump more oil after cutting back on our ample supplies and trashing Riyadh as part of his return to the Obama pivot to Iran. 

Biden loves appeasement lists. He provided the Taliban with a list of whom we wished to evacuate. (When the Taliban soon knock on the door of an American in Kabul who thinks their message will be, “We’re here to escort you to your flight”?) In the same manner, Biden provided Putin with a helpful list of institutions he wanted Putin’s satellite cyber-criminals to exempt from hacking. 

The blame for this sordid mess is threefold: 

1) The media that knew Biden was debilitated and so covered up that fact to carry the candidate across the finish line in November. 

2) The Democratic apparat that envisioned Biden lasting just long enough (the country be damned) to provide the needed cover of a sharply left-wing agenda. 

3) The Pentagon’s top brass, active and retired, who for years leaked about and obstructed Trump, sought to toady up to the press in its “wokeness,” and posed as speaking truth to power, but have now gone strangely silent when we need public voices to oppose the present Afghanistan nihilism of the administration.

Partnering With the Taliban

The Taliban are to al-Qaeda and ISIS as the Nazis in World War II were to fellow fascists of the Spanish Blue Division, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, and the Romanian Iron Guard—ethnic and ideological variants of the same radical nihilist cause. No act of terror goes on in Afghanistan without someone in the Taliban ordering or allowing it. Their “ring” around the airport is only an obstruction for whom they choose: Americans and their allies. 

The Taliban may for a moment seek plausible deniability of suicide bombings to hasten the U.S. departure in shame, temporarily disavowing credit for slaughtering Americans as they leave. But as soon as U.S. soldiers are gone, the Taliban will give free rein to its hounds al-Qaeda and ISIS, brag that they drove out the United States, and then resume their accustomed murdering and raping of civilians. We should expect lots of silent, under-the-table Bowe Bergdahl-type swaps, trades, and humiliations for the next year or so. We will likely sell out our former friends in the Northern Alliance, pay cash under the table per hostage head, and lie about a “new” Taliban. 

So, should we laugh or cry when General Kenneth McKenzie assures us that the Taliban and the U.S. military have the same agenda: Americans exiting Afghanistan as soon as possible? 

Yes, their agenda is the Pentagon exiting Afghanistan as soon as possible—but with the greatest global humiliation, loss of life, and general sense of defeat. In contrast, our agenda is to leave Afghanistan soberly and methodically, even if that means regaining Bagram for as long as necessary to achieve our own strategic goals.

The Abandoned Arsenal

The administration never mentions the vast horde of U.S. weaponry that was simply abandoned to the Taliban. Why? Is it to be “$80 billion here, thousands of machine guns there—no big deal”?

Estimates of the trove’s value range from $70 billion to $90 billion. The stockpile likely includes 80,000 vehicles, including 4,700 late-model Humvees, 600,000 weapons of various sorts, 162,643 pieces of communications equipment, more than 200 aircraft, and 16,000 pieces of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment, including late-model drones. Especially worrisome are the loss of night-vision equipment, 20,000-plus grenades, and 1,400 grenade launchers, as well as more than 7,000 machine guns—the perfect equipment for jihadist terror operations and asymmetrical street fighting. 

We can look at this disaster in a number of depressing ways. One would be to compare this giveaway to military aid given to Israel over the last 70 years, which more or less has amounted to about an aggregate $100 billion. In other words, in one fell swoop, the Pentagon deposited into Taliban hands about 80 percent of all the military aid that we’ve ever given to Israel since the founding of the Jewish state. In terms of tactical and operational capability, the Taliban may now be the best-equipped terrorist force in Asia and the Middle East.

Assume that for the next quarter-century, Afghanistan will become not just the world’s training haven for Islamic terrorists, but an international, no-questions-asked, cash-on-the-barrel arms market for anti-Western terrorist cliques. 

Or we can assess the damage psychologically. For the immediate future (possibly over the next few days or weeks), American soldiers could face the prospect of being attacked or killed by those who are outfitted in their own mirror image, and they might be blown up by their own former weapons. 

Yet the media never asked for, nor did the Pentagon volunteer, any explanation of why such stocks were simply abandoned, or at least not destroyed before fleeing, or not later bombed. Since nothing makes sense, we must strain the imagination: was the $80 billion in arms given as de facto bribe money to get our own out? 

In addition, the beefed-up U.S. embassy in Kabul reportedly cost nearly $1 billion, comparable to America’s most expensive embassy in London. It will now become a Taliban stronghold. Bagram Air Base—originally built with U.S. help and money during the Eisenhower Administration—has been updated with hundreds of millions of dollars of American investment in the last 20 years, in buildings, a new runway, personnel accommodations, detention facilities, and infrastructure. 

Although it had been the target of several Taliban attacks, Bagram was largely considered defensible. It allowed coalition and Afghan forces to enjoy 100 percent air superiority over the entire country. Biden talks endlessly of the “over the horizon” capability of distant bases and ships, while omitting that he destroyed “right over the target” current capability. Why these vital American investments were simply surrendered in the dead of night to looters first, and Taliban second, will be an object of controversy and investigation for decades to come. To think of anything similar, imagine the British surrender of Singapore in 1942 or a combination of Fort Sumter, the burning of Washington in 1814, and Wake Island, December 1941.

The End of American Stature

Regional countries will no longer wish to join the United States in any war on terror because they know they are always just one election from a radical flip-flop in American foreign policy. There is no such thing anymore as bipartisan foreign affairs, since policy is seen as an extension of the revolutionary agendas here at home. Our allies are concluding that the United States is not a bastion of sobriety and careful deliberation that takes its leadership of the free world seriously, but a mercurial, radical leftist country that in a second may self-immolate, as we did in the woke summer of 2020. 

Donald Trump reportedly offended NATO members and weakened the alliance by his bombast. Perhaps, but the record shows a funny type of allied enervation, because his jawboning resulted in a much larger NATO budget, marked gains in military expenditures on the part of NATO members, and a dramatic increase in those nations finally meeting or nearly meeting their two percent of GDP military investment promises. 

And during the Trump Administration, NATO nations could claim that they destroyed ISIS in Syria under U.S. leadership, kept Afghanistan safe while reducing troops, frightened Iran, and taught Russians in Syria not to assault U.S. garrisons. For all the graduated withdrawals of the United States from Afghanistan in 2010-2020, not a single U.S. soldier had died in the 12 months prior to the inauguration of Joe Biden.  

But now? Most of the major NATO nations have condemned the U.S. skedaddle from Afghanistan. They are angry that they were not consulted, and not synchronized in the complex airlift and withdrawal. And they resent the “every man for himself” unilateralism on the part of the United States.  

We cannot expect the European NATO members to stand with the United States in trying to check Chinese aggression. The alliance will no longer badger Germany to cease its new de facto economic alliance with Russia or to stand firm against Russian bullying of frontline NATO states, or to present a unified skeptical front about reentering the flawed Iran deal. Differing views about assistance to Israel will only acerbate. NATO members, rightly or wrongly, feel they were bullied into Afghanistan by the United States, and 20 years later outnumbered the U.S. contingent by nearly fourfold—only to be left stunned as their supposed spiritual and military leader fled first for the exits, after itself surrendering the country to NATO enemies. 

The Future

In an ideal world, Biden would order a nocturnal retaking of Bagram, shift all U.S. evacuation efforts there, and provide air cover for incoming and outcoming flights as well as retaliatory strikes on terrorist enclaves as necessary. He would tell the Taliban that $80 billion of free military stuff was enough of bribes and that any more obstructive efforts will be met with bombs, not more cash and weapons.  

Joe Biden thinks August 31, 2021, is the “end” of Afghanistan. In fact, it is a new beginning of yet another chapter in the much despised “war on terror.” But this time around, the Taliban are victorious. They have been reinvented as the best-equipped jihadist nation in the world, basking in the prestige of humiliating the world’s superpower, and will take ownership of hundreds of billions of dollars of Western investment in infrastructure in Afghanistan’s major cities. 

This disaster can be attributed to Biden’s apparent desire for a 9/11 “no more Afghanistan” anniversary parade—itself to be staged to hide his multifaceted border, economy, energy, and foreign policy failures.

The Chinese are debating now whether to ramp up the assault rhetoric against Taiwan, as more Chinese voices conclude that Biden would support the Taiwanese in meager fashion, as he did U.S. contractors and Afghan interpreters. The Russians are pondering which exposed NATO country or which former Soviet republic might be probed and dissected—in expectation of a tough-guy Biden Corn-Pop lecture but not much else. Kim Jong-un is considering replaying his old role of rocket man, as he calibrates the Biden responses to more missiles launched in Japanese air or water space.  

Watch Iran especially. The theocracy believes this is the most opportune time in 20 years to announce that it is or will soon be nuclear, to unleash Hezbollah, and to step up global terrorist operations on the assumption that Biden will bow his head and declare “We do not forgive; we do not forget” and then retire for an early nap.

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/30/2021 - 20:20
Published:8/30/2021 7:41:30 PM
[Opinion] Opinion: Cultural degradation and the human rat trap

by David Risselada -

As America seems to chug along on what, during the Obama years, I referred to as the fundamental transformation choo-choo train, people wonder how our society became so chaotic. America was founded as a nation rooted in Christian ethics and morality, where human life held an intrinsic value because people believed …

Opinion: Cultural degradation and the human rat trap is posted on Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:8/30/2021 2:32:17 PM
[Markets] Obama Education Secretary Loses His Mind, Compares Anti-Maskers To Kabul Suicide Bombers Obama Education Secretary Loses His Mind, Compares Anti-Maskers To Kabul Suicide Bombers

Via HumanEvents.com,

Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seems to have lost his mind after comparing Americans who choose not to be confined by masks to the deadly terrorists who killed 13 American service members last week. 

In a tweet, Duncan claimed that those who don’t wear masks are “strikingly similar” to the extremists who killed and injured hundreds of Americans and Afghans by suicide bombing, per the Star News Network. 

“They both blow themselves up, inflict harm on those around them, and are convinced they are fighting for freedom,” the tweet reads.

To no surprise, Duncan faced harsh backlash for his far-fetched – and quite frankly, tone-deaf – comparison. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/30/2021 - 15:17
Published:8/30/2021 2:32:17 PM
[Markets] "A Matter Of Logic & Common Sense": Federal Court Rejects Theory On Unconstitutionality Of Newsom Recall "A Matter Of Logic & Common Sense": Federal Court Rejects Theory On Unconstitutionality Of Newsom Recall

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

Recently, I was critical of a Washington Post column by University of California-Berkeley Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Professor Aaron S. Edlin, who argued for a legal challenge of the recall election of Callifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom as unconstitutional. They insisted that the recall election violated the concept of “one person, one vote.” While Chemerinsky and Edlin insisted that the unconstitutionality of the recall election “should not be a close constitutional question,”  I argued that most judges would likely agree but come to the opposite conclusion.  Apparently, one such judge is United States District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald who went out of his way to say that this was not a close question before summarily dismissing the Chemerinsky/Edlin theory.

The professors based their arguments on two 1964 cases, Wesberry v. Sanders and Reynolds v. Sims addressing voting districts with significantly different populations. The result is that voters in the smaller population districts had greater voting power.

For Newsom to be removed, a majority will have to declare that they no longer want him to be governor. The professors do not question that such a vote is entirely proper and constitutional, but insisted that the second vote would violate “one person, one vote” because less than a majority could elect Newsom’s replacement (far fewer than the voters who sought to retain him). However, the second vote does not appear an effort to inflate or reduce the power of voters. The system may have been designed to achieve a more rapid or efficient transfer of power:

“On the second vote, Newsom is not a candidate because the majority of voters decided that they want him out of office. They did so knowing that they would then have to vote for someone else in the second vote. California decided that, rather than hold a runoff for a majority-supported replacement, they would simply accept that candidate with the most votes. There are various possible supporting reasons for such a system. The state may have viewed a recall as a traumatic and costly distraction from government. This simple process allows for someone to take office quickly and without an extended campaign. Moreover, the state may view the term as an abridged or shortened period. Presumably, a governor could be removed with only a few weeks or months remaining. The voters would then have a chance to elect a new governor if they so desired.”

As I noted in the column:

“I do not see the clear or even compelling basis for declaring the recall system unconstitutional on that ground. First, as a practical matter, citizens may vote against a recall simply because they do not want to see a turnover of office as opposed to supporting Newsom. Second, the disparity in the two votes is due to the first vote being a binary choice. Either Newsom is in or Newsom is out. The state understood that reality when it allowed any qualified person to run in the second vote. The value a replacement securing a majority was not as great as giving the greatest degree of opportunity for others to seek the office.

Finally, there is equality in voting. The first vote is by majority. The second vote can be won by plurality. However, all of the votes are weighed the same. Indeed, the professors do not object to some voters being able to elect their choice by plurality.”

The theory was put to the test before Fitzgerald, an Obama appointee, who had the same reaction.

Chemerinsky and Edlin insisted “The Constitution simply does not permit replacing a governor with a less popular candidate.” However, Fitzgerald saw no constitutional barrier to the citizens of California creating such a system. He noted that the Supreme Court case law like Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 433 (1992), clearly establish that “the right to vote inherently has common-sense limitations because every conceivable candidate or issue cannot be presented on every ballot.” This case law further clearly establishes that:

There simply is no Fourteenth Amendment violation here, under either the Due Process Clause or the Equal Protection Clause or the Privileges and Immunities Clause, for these reasons: First, as a matter of logic and common sense, it simply is not true that Plaintiff only gets to vote once while others get to vote twice. Plaintiff and all California voters have the opportunity to vote two distinct issues. The first is whether the Governor should be recalled. Plaintiff and all other voters have the opportunity but not the obligation to vote for a replacement candidate. Obviously, that vote only matters if a majority of the voters turn out to have voted ‘Yes.’ Plaintiff and all other voters have the same equal vote as to who the Governor’s replacement should be.”

Fitzgerald describes the rest as more disgruntlement than constitutional analysis:

“Plaintiff’s argument ignores that a majority of the voters must first vote to remove the Governor before votes for the replacement candidates mean anything. Plaintiff plainly feels disgruntled that a replacement candidate with a small plurality might replace a sitting governor who, based on a robust ‘No’ vote, might well have beaten that same replacement candidate in a general election. As that may be, such disgruntlement raises no federal constitutional issues and certainly does not give the federal judiciary the right to halt the mammoth undertaking of this gubernatorial recall election. No one suggests that a state constitutional mechanism for recall is in itself unconstitutional. If the possibility for recall exists, then a means for selecting a successor must be specified. No doubt, it would be cheaper and simpler to replace a sitting governor with the lieutenant governor. But for over one hundred years, California has chosen a different procedure. The United States Constitution does not prevent that. California voters who are dubious of a ‘plurality lottery’ among the forty-six replacement candidates have the opportunity to vote ‘No.'”

Nevertheless, the theory was pushed by the Washington Post and a host of liberal websites. Post readers were delighted to hear that, once again, the law was clear and the outcome desirable. The only difficulty was in first finding a credible constitutional basis and then a willing court.  This theory appears to have fallen short on both fronts.

The court saw no reason to go forward with the case on the hopes of developing this theory further:

“In theory, this action could continue after the election, just as the action did in Townley. However, the Court fails to see why discovery or further proceedings or a trial would matter; Plaintiff has presented a clever issue of law upon which this Court has ruled, correctly or not.”

Here is the opinion: Clark v. Weber

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/30/2021 - 13:10
Published:8/30/2021 12:31:41 PM
[] Biden Drone Strike Killed Nine Members of a Single Family, Including Six Children Published:8/30/2021 10:07:15 AM
[Politics] The Biden-Soros Paradox Americans elected President Trump in 2016 and President Obama and Vice President Biden before that on, in part, promises to end "endless wars" and bring our troops home. Now that Mr. Biden is following through on that in Afghanistan, polls show his job-approval sinking. How to explain the apparent paradox? Americans seem to want to end wars and bring the troops home, but when they see the actual consequences of doing that, they blame the politicians. Part of the apparent contradiction is in... Published:8/24/2021 6:59:19 AM
[Politics] ‘ANTICS’: Lib DEM elites get their GROOVE ON in NYC while thousands suffer and DIE at HOME and in KABUL Everyone is being scolded for leaving their houses or going to school in Florida, while Barack Obama throws huge parties. And lib dem elites get their groove on in NYC while hurricanes . . . Published:8/21/2021 9:11:54 PM
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