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Rein In The FBI: Put An End To Their Gestapo Tactics

Rein In The FBI: Put An End To Their Gestapo Tactics Authored by John and Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “One of the creeping hands of totalitarianism running through the democracy is the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Because why does the FBI do all this? To scare the hell out of people… They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things.” - Howard Zinn, historian Power corrupts. We know this. In fact, we know this from experience learned the hard way at the hands of our own government. So why is anyone surprised to learn that the FBI, one of the most power-hungry and corrupt agencies within the police state’s vast complex of power-hungry and corrupt agencies, misused a massive government surveillance database more than 300,000 times in order to target American citizens? This is how the government operates, after all. First, they seek out extraordinary powers acquired in the wake of some national crisis—in this case, warrantless surveillance powers intended to help the government spy on foreign targets suspected of engaging in terrorism—and then they use those powers against the American people. According to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FBI repeatedly misused Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to spy on the communications of two vastly disparate groups of Americans: those involved in the George Floyd protests and those who may have taken part in the Jan. 6, 2021, protests at the Capitol. This is par for the course for the FBI, whose modus operandi has historically been to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” perceived threats to the government’s power. Indeed, the FBI has a long history of persecuting, prosecuting and generally harassing activists, politicians, and cultural figures. Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, the FBI’s targets were civil rights activists, those suspected of having Communist ties, and anti-war activists. In more recent decades, the FBI has expanded its reach to target so-called domestic extremists, environmental activists, and those who oppose the police state. In 2019, President Trump promised to give the FBI “whatever they need” to investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism, without any apparent thought for the Constitution’s prohibitions on such overreach. That misguided pledge sheds a curious light on the FBI’s ongoing spree of SWAT team raids, surveillance, disinformation campaigns, fear-mongering, paranoia, and strong-arm tactics meted out to dissidents on both the right and the left. Yet while these overreaching, heavy-handed lessons in how to rule by force have become standard operating procedure for a government that communicates with its citizenry primarily through the language of brutality, intimidation and fear, none of this is new. Indeed, the FBI’s love affair with totalitarianism can be traced back to the Nazi police state. As historian Robert Gellately recounts, the Nazi police state was so admired for its efficiency and order by the world powers of the day that in the decades after World War II, the FBI, along with other government agencies, aggressively recruited at least a thousand Nazis, including some of Hitler’s highest henchmen. Since then, U.S. government agencies—the FBI, CIA and the military—have fully embraced many of the Nazi’s well-honed policing tactics, and used them repeatedly against American citizens. With every passing day, the United States government borrows yet another leaf from Nazi Germany’s playbook: Secret police. Secret courts. Secret government agencies. Surveillance. Censorship. Intimidation. Harassment. Torture. Brutality. Widespread corruption. Entrapment. Indoctrination. Indefinite detention. These are not tactics used by constitutional republics, where the rule of law and the rights of the citizenry reign supreme. Rather, they are the hallmarks of authoritarian regimes, where secret police control the populace through intimidation, fear and official lawlessness on the part of government agents. Consider the extent to which the FBI’s far-reaching powers to surveil, detain, interrogate, investigate, prosecute, punish, police and generally act as a law unto themselves resemble those of their Nazi cousins, the Gestapo. Just like the Gestapo, the FBI has vast resources, vast investigatory powers, and vast discretion to determine who is an enemy of the state. Much like the Gestapo spied on mail and phone calls, FBI agents have carte blanche access to the citizenry’s most personal information. Much like the Gestapo’s sophisticated surveillance programs, the FBI’s spying capabilities can delve into Americans’ most intimate details (and allow local police to do so, as well). Much like the Gestapo’s ability to profile based on race and religion, and its assumption of guilt by association, the FBI’s approach to pre-crime allows it to profile Americans based on a broad range of characteristics including race and religion. Much like the Gestapo’s power to render anyone an enemy of the state, the FBI has the power to label anyone a domestic terrorist. Much like the Gestapo infiltrated communities in order to spy on the German citizenry, the FBI routinely infiltrates political and religious groups, as well as businesses. Just as the Gestapo united and militarized Germany’s police forces into a national police force, America’s police forces have largely been federalized and turned into a national police force. Just as the Gestapo carried out entrapment operations, the FBI has become a master in the art of entrapment. Just as the Gestapo’s secret files on political leaders were used to intimidate and coerce, the FBI’s attempts to target and spy on anyone suspected of “anti-government” sentiment have been similarly abused. The Gestapo became the terror of the Third Reich by creating a sophisticated surveillance and law enforcement system that relied for its success on the cooperation of the military, the police, the intelligence community, neighborhood watchdogs, government workers for the post office and railroads, ordinary civil servants, and a nation of snitches inclined to report “rumors, deviant behavior, or even just loose talk.” Likewise, as countless documents make clear, the FBI has had no qualms about using its extensive powers in order to blackmail politicians, spy on celebrities and high-ranking government officials, and intimidate and attempt to discredit dissidents of all stripes. In fact, borrowing heavily from the Gestapo, between 1956 and 1971, the FBI conducted an intensive domestic intelligence program, termed COINTELPRO, intended to neutralize domestic political dissidents. As Congressman Steve Cohen explains, “COINTELPRO was set up to surveil and disrupt groups and movements that the FBI found threatening… many groups, including anti-war, student, and environmental activists, and the New Left were harassed, infiltrated, falsely accused of criminal activity          .” Sound familiar? The more things change, the more they stay the same. Those targeted by the FBI under COINTELPRO for its intimidation, surveillance and smear campaigns included: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, the Black Panther Party, Billie Holiday, Emma Goldman, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Chaplin, Ernest Hemingway, Felix Frankfurter, John Lennon, and hundreds more. The Church Committee, the Senate task force charged with investigating COINTELPRO abuses in 1975, denounced the government’s abuses: “Too many people have been spied upon by too many Government agencies and too much information has been collected. The Government has often undertaken the secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts on behalf of a hostile foreign power.” The report continued: “Groups and individuals have been harassed and disrupted because of their political views and their lifestyles. Investigations have been based upon vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection inevitable. Unsavory and vicious tactics have been employed—including anonymous attempts to break up marriages, disrupt meetings, ostracize persons from their professions, and provoke target groups into rivalries that might result in deaths. Intelligence agencies have served the political and personal objectives of presidents and other high officials.” Whether 50 years ago or in the present day, the treatment being doled out by the government’s lethal enforcers has remained consistent, no matter the threat. The FBI’s laundry list of crimes against the American people includes surveillance, disinformation, blackmail, entrapment, intimidation tactics, harassment and indoctrination, governmental overreach, abuse, misconduct, trespassing, enabling criminal activity, and damaging private property, and that’s just based on what we know. Whether the FBI is planting undercover agents in churches, synagogues and mosques; issuing fake emergency letters to gain access to Americans’ phone records; using intimidation tactics to silence Americans who are critical of the government; recruiting high school students to spy on and report fellow students who show signs of being future terrorists; or persuading impressionable individuals to plot acts of terror and then entrapping them, the overall impression of the nation’s secret police force is that of a well-dressed thug, flexing its muscles and doing the boss’ dirty work of ensuring compliance, keeping tabs on potential dissidents, and punishing those who dare to challenge the status quo. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it’s time to rein in the Federal Bureau of Intimidation’s war on political freedom. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 26th, 2023

How Solar Sales Bros Threaten the Green Energy Transition

Social media and the promise of profits has fueled an army of young men to go out and spread misinformation in the residential solar industry. Ryan was scrolling on Instagram when he ran across a verified account he figured must be run by a celebrity; the young man in it showed off a new Lamborghini, a Florida penthouse, and videos of himself benching 225 pounds. He had gotten rich, he told followers, by selling solar panels. Curious, Ryan messaged the man, who claimed he could teach others his success; within 48 hours, Ryan was invited to Florida, to stay for free in one of the man’s apartments while he learned the art of solar sales.  [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Within a few days, he was out knocking on doors, within a year he had made around $350,000. But something started to gnaw at Ryan as he knocked on doors in small Florida towns alongside other men from out of state, staying in free luxury Airbnbs while they sold rooftop solar. About 90% of what he was being taught to say was a lie. He wasn’t working in conjunction with the electric company. The loans the homeowners were taking out didn’t have low interest rates. The solar panels weren’t always being installed by professionals who knew what they were doing. Ryan, who was 23 at the time, eventually quit and moved home, but he says new people were coming in all the time. (Ryan didn’t want his real name used for the story because he’s still in sales and wants to get into Harvard for business school.) “It’s this whole sales bro culture on Instagram,” he says. “You can make so much money.”  The U.S. needs to install 1,000 gigawatts of solar power by 2035 to be on track to decarbonize its electrical grid, and pushed by both a growing recognition of the urgency of fighting climate change and by well-publicized incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act, not to mention rising costs of residential electricity, Americans are shelling out money for solar panels. The U.S. added 6.4 gigawatts of small-scale solar in 2022, the most ever in a single year, according to the Energy Information Association. But the job of convincing Americans to sign up for solar panels on their rooftops has, in many cases, been hijacked by people with little knowledge about how renewable energy works, and who are just trying to make as much money as possible while the rush is on. They are fanning out across the country, knocking on doors, calling phones, and pitching homeowners on the benefits of solar power, sometimes ignoring Do Not Call lists or No Soliciting signs. Many of these salespeople are using misleading tactics to sell homeowners on solar—tactics that they learn from self-proclaimed sales experts online—and because they are independent contractors who don’t work for a specific solar installer, they’re getting away with it. As a result, they’re making thousands of dollars per sale, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, often while targeting elderly and low-income consumers with their sales pitch.  “Solar is ground zero for consumer fraud right now,” says Andrew Milz, a consumer attorney based in Pennsylvania. “The industry is just littered with bad actors trying to put solar on as many roofs as possible as fast as possible.” No Barrier To Entry for Salespeople The root of the problem is this: there is no license or training required in most states to sell solar; you don’t even have to work for a specific solar company to get started. Instead, installers farm out sales to networks of freelancers working solely on commission. These “dealer networks” negotiate with installers something called a “red line”—essentially a price at which they need to sell the solar system, for example, $2.50 a watt. If salespeople are able to convince the homeowner to pay much more, say $4 a watt, they pocket the difference, which can end up being thousands of dollars per sale. With so much potential money on the table, salespeople are motivated to make big promises that might not end up being true.  “The way the system is designed really incentivizes bad behavior,” says Vikram Aggarwal, the CEO of EnergySage, a solar services marketplace.  The untruths salesmen—and they are mostly men—peddle are often very similar. They say that you can get free solar panels from the government. (You can’t. There are tax credits available but they only take off about one-third of the price of panels, and are only for people who owe taxes.) They say you can eliminate your energy bills and become independent from the power company. (This is unlikely without a solar battery, which is a significant additional cost: most homes will still be connected to the electrical grid and charged a monthly fee.) They say the panels will be hooked in up a matter of weeks (also unlikely), that they work for the local utility (probably not) and that they are not even actually selling anything but are instead “energy consultants” whose job is to look at customers’ utility bills and see if solar is a good fit for their home (if a free “energy consultant” that you didn’t request shows up at your house, be skeptical). The “bro” culture on social media appears to be fueling some of this fraud, by recruiting young men to do whatever it takes to make a sale. “You don’t have to lie—I’m not saying that by any stretch,” says Jordan Belfort, the real-life Wolf of Wall Street, who served 22 months in prison for fraud and other related financial crimes, on a video in which he sits in front of men sipping cans of Red Bull and RockStar energy drinks, teaching them how to sell solar. “But what you need to do is have the best version of the truth.”  The sheer amount of money available in solar sales is attracting many people with no experience in renewable energy. “Your teachers lied to you, this is how you get rich,” says one salesman, in a video where he claims to make $7,000 in one sale. One TikTok video tells people they can make six figures in just four months, get a free flight to Dallas, and a free apartment if they come and sell solar there in what’s called a “sales blitz,” which is essentially when people spread out to sell in a focused area. Some of these blitzes “are like the first half of the Wolf of Wall Street, with visits to strip clubs and liberal use of cocaine,” says one man, who was hired to film these barrages and who did not want his name used because his production company is still working with sales firms. The gurus online don’t talk much about the benefits of renewable energy; instead they highlight how much money salespeople can make. They also advertise a frat-like atmosphere, where a community of peers will cheer you on and fist bump you as you sell solar—and do push-ups alongside you each time you fail. They invite participants to boot camps or training sessions, sometimes in exotic villas or cabins, where sessions can end with a bunch of men jumping up and down in a huddle while hyping each other up as if in a football game. Some go so far to bring new sellers into group houses, where “they’re in boot camp hell and someone is getting them up at 8 a.m. and pushing them to do door-to-door sales,” says Clayton Friedman, a partner at the law firm Troutman Pepper, who handles complaints in the solar industry. “I’d call it cult-like behavior.”  That behavior shows up in the field. A Houston salesman named Mark Hudspeth recently was pursuing a lead—essentially a person who might be interested in buying solar—he’d purchased from another company, and then got a disconcertingly aggressive text from a stranger: “You can f* right off, Solar Bro’s are taking this territory! This is our terf now!”  Courts are littered with cases of solar sales gone wrong. They allege that salespeople misrepresent their relationship with utilities, use high-pressure tactics to trick people into signing binding contracts even if their homes aren’t a good fit for solar, call homes on the Do Not Call registry to pitch them on solar, and lie about potential energy-bill savings. Then, according to the legal complaints, the companies fail to complete solar projects in the time frame promised, ignore deadlines from utilities, and then threaten homeowners with large termination fees and lawsuits if they try to cancel the sale.  These problems appear to be growing. The number of complaints submitted on reportfraud.ftc.gov containing the words “door” and “sales” and “solar” jumped from 33 in 2021 to 70 in 2022 to 154 through Nov. 1 of this year, according to a FOIA request submitted by TIME to the Federal Trade Commission. While the number of complaints jumped fivefold between 2021 and 2023, the amount of residential installed solar capacity increased just 40%.  Salesmen Who Stretch the Truth Rooftop solar can be very good for homeowners who have the right homes—and the right expectations. Homeowners are much more likely to have a positive experience if they call around and compare quotes from solar installers, and if they use a company that friends or neighbors used and liked. But the sheer volume of door knockers and virtual solar sales agents means that many homeowners are encountering the bad actors, rather than the good. Read more: Rooftop Solar Power Has a Dark Side Sometimes, the salespeople aren’t lying exactly but are exaggerating the truth. “Want to see something cool? Watch me make five grand in 15 minutes,” says solar-sales guru Nick O’Connor on a TikTok video, before he knocks on a woman’s door and tells her that her energy bills are going to double in the next year—highly unlikely, given that the largest one-year increase in average electricity spending since 1984 was 13%, between 2021 and 2022.  “You can either take $20,000 tax credit to go solar or you pay the $20,000 by them taxing fossil fuels, oil, and gas,” says one door-knocker to a homeowner who has already said she is not interested, in a TikTik video. Salesmen for the company Brio were trained to exaggerate the financial benefits of solar panels, portray them as free, and offer one-day-only deals like 12 months of free loan payments that didn’t end up materializing, according to a lawsuit filed against the company by Minnesota’s attorney general in December 2022. “When you come up with a number like [that], they’re like holy s***, even though we’re only lowering their bill by about five bucks,” one trainer allegedly said.  “We’re not selling anything,” says Taylor McCarthy, the co-founder of Knockstar University, tells homeowners in a TikTok video, as he proceeds to sell them on solar panels. “I’m not a solicitor,” he says, in another video, before he approaches a house with a No Soliciting sign; though the homeowners told him no 20 times before, later in the video he tells the audience that “I got it to yes.” In another video of a “Texas blitz,” in which McCarthy tries to sell as much solar as possible in two days, a policeman tells him he needs a license to knock on doors—and when he can’t get the license, he continues to knock. McCarthy says he sees himself as a service provider, rather than as a solicitor, since people can save money and own their own power production once they switch to solar. He also said that he wasn’t violating any laws after he was approached by the policeman, since he continued knocking in another town. McCarthy was a long-time door-to-door salesman before he co-founded Knockstar in 2021. He started out with just a handful of prospective sellers; now, he estimates, he trains 10,000 a year. His approach seems to work: he portrays the utility company as corrupt; asks people why they chose the utility company they did (people largely can’t choose which utility company services them); asks them how much their energy bill has gone up in the last year; and when they tell him the cost of their utility bill, he pretends that he thinks it’s for the quarter, rather than for the month. “If your tactics are sound, they can’t fight you,” says McCarthy. “It’s not even work at this point—it’s like you’re a professional trick or treater.” Some of his clients, according to videos he posts online, are very happy with their purchases. But McCarthy does omit important information at times: he tells homeowners, for instance, that they’re better off owning solar panels than paying a monthly utility bill while in reality, if you have solar panels, you probably have both a utility bill and solar payments. Though you may save money overall by installing solar, saying that you’re gaining independence from the utility company is not quite true.  Every time I asked McCarthy a question about something that seemed untrue, he had an answer that sounded believable, such as that he over-sizes solar systems to ensure people won’t have electric bills. He seems to truly believe that he is helping people get out from under the thumb of the electric company. “To be a good solar professional, you need to blend two opposites,” he says. “You have to be aggressive but kind. Assertive but nice.” McCarthy illustrates why it can be so hard to rein in the industry: he is earnest and polite and knowledgeable but still plays hard and fast with the truth. There’s No Regulation In Solar Sales Solar companies have engaged in aggressive sales tactics from the earliest days of the industry; door-to-door sales were pioneered by a company called Vivint Solar, which was founded by a former Mormon missionary. By 2013, Vivint, which started in 1999 as a door-to-door home-alarm sales company, was the fastest-growing rooftop solar installation and financing business in the U.S. and had just been acquired by the investment firm Blackstone.  Problems quickly arose. By 2016, consumer protection groups were registering complaints with regulators about salespeople misrepresenting the costs and benefits of solar panels; in reviewing complaints submitted to regulators between 2012 and 2016, the Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit, found “a widespread pattern of apparent fraud and abuse by solar companies.”  Attempts at regulation have not made much of a difference. New Jersey, for example, fined Vivint $122,000 in 2019 for selling panels based on inaccurate price quotes and obtaining credit reports without customer consent. But in 2022, homeowners filed another lawsuit against Vivint in New Jersey, alleging that a Vivint salesman forged signatures to close a solar deal; when Vivint was informed that the agreement had been forged, the complaint says, it refused to cancel the contract. In a statement provided to TIME, SunRun—a national solar company that acquired Vivint in 2020—said that the allegations in the complaint predate its acquisition, and that it already settled the case, denying wrongdoing. SunRun requires all sales consultants to adhere to a strict code of conduct and ongoing ethics training, the company says. Installing solar panels is expensive, and it’s not something homeowners should undertake without a lot of consideration and research. But there’s also a rush to speed adoption and help states meet their renewable energy goals, and the solar industry writ large has not shown much interest in policing the bad actors, for fear of slowing down the good. “The companies are just obsessed with profits—that’s why they turn a blind idea to abundant sales fraud,” says Milz, the attorney.  Fraud is difficult to crack down on today because of the number of different parties involved in the sale of solar panels. In the past, the same companies that were knocking on doors selling solar panels were also the ones installing them, so customers knew where to complain if they felt they’d been misled. Today, the person knocking on your door may be an independent contractor who will be hard to find once you realize he over-promised you on the benefits of solar. The company loaning homeowners the money to buy solar panels is another entity entirely. And as more people started buying solar panels rather than leasing them, the loan companies have helped enable misleading and sometimes fraudulent sales practices, says Steve Hamile, chief operating office of Nevada solar company Sol-Up, who has pushed for more regulations on solar sales in the state. “The lenders are as much of a problem as a solution,” he says.  Ryan, the 23-year-old man who flew to Florida to sell solar, says he was astounded by the speed at which he could help people secure financing to buy solar panels. If he had someone’s first and last name and their social security number, he says, he could sign them up for a 25-year-loan in under five minutes. Often, the actual cost of the loan was hidden. “If they truly saw the interest rates they were signing, they would get sick,” he says. Read more: The Overlooked Solar Power Potential of America’s Parking Lots Lenders do not appear to be cracking down on fraudulent practices. For example, according to a complaint filed in December 2022 against GoodLeap, one of the biggest lenders in the market, a salesperson told an 80-year-old bedridden woman, Merion Kane, that she could get “free” solar panels from the government. She still declined, but the salesperson took out a loan in her name from GoodLeap to borrow $42,000 without her knowledge anyway. And the solar panels that were installed ended up not working. In another case, the attorneys general of Kentucky and Tennessee filed a lawsuit against Mosaic, another big lender, in February 2023, alleging that the company routinely does not provide the required truth in lending disclosures and ignores cancellation requests made within three days of a sale, the time period in which consumers are legally allowed to cancel. “This partnership has allowed Mosaic to reap enormous profits while facing no consequences for its participation in this harmful and unlawful business scheme,” the complaint alleges. (Neither Mosaic nor Goodleap returned requests for comment for this story.) Some Burgeoning Attempts At Regulation Nevada has taken the first big step to rein in some of the bad practices in the industry. It passed a bill in June that aims to get rid of independent contractors selling solar in the state, by essentially requiring solar panel salespeople to have an electrical contractors’ license in the state, or be the direct employee of a licensed contractor. The law also requires that a company make a recorded phone call that walks consumers through what they signed up for within 48 hours of a sale—in time for them to cancel.  The law was shepherded by Hamile, of Sol-Up, who kept running into customers who had been misled by door-to-door salespeople. Frustrated with how hard it was to find and hold these salespeople accountable, Hamile reached out to his local legislators. “What caused us dismay was that so many customers were saying, ‘look, I don’t know who to believe,’” he says.  Nevada’s law, which goes into effect in 2024, is not popular among certain solar companies; the Solar Energy Industries Association has argued that it will dampen enthusiasm among lenders for residential solar systems and “stifle” options for installers who want to have their sales handled by independent contractors. Some in the solar industry support a company called Mentis that has created a standardized training and licensing program for solar sales that it says is similar to what real estate agents must go through. The company was founded by Brian Johnston and Chris Trocola, two former solar salespeople who realized that bad actors in the industry were jeopardizing its potential for growth—they say the industry is on board. “Finance companies and installers absolutely need this to happen because they keep fronting the bill for these kids who came in here and are now driving a Bentley because they lied to 13 people,” Trocola says. Mentis’ online platform teaches the basics of the solar sales industry, including consumer protections. Salespeople who have had the necessary training, have passed background checks, and completed an ethics test can register on Mentis’ database, as can companies that meet its standards. The platform, in theory, enables Mentis to respond to complaints filed by consumers about its registered companies and sales reps.  Hamile says that Mentis’s solution isn’t workable since it doesn’t shut down the independent contractors who will say anything they can to make a sale. There already are training and certifications available in solar, he says, specifically from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Hamile and Joy Seitz, the CEO of another installer, American Solar & Roofing, agree that the industry needs to realize that regulation would actually benefit it at this point. Solar sales have been around for more than a decade now, yet it hasn’t been regulated like sales of other big-ticket items like real estate. Practices are allowed in solar sales that aren’t allowed in real estate, like paying kickbacks for referrals. “Solar is no longer a nascent industry and like every other large industry,” says Seitz, who is also a board member of the Solar Energy Industries Association, “oversight is required as bad actors take advantage of loopholes and no accountability.”  After all, this is America, where money drives behavior and where people are quick to take advantage of ways to get rich quickly. Ryan, the 23-year-old,  believes in capitalism but also worries that companies have figured out how to avoid liability for any lies that salesmen say. Without that accountability, there’s no bounds to the amount of money that people can make, he says. No matter what, the guys on social media who are swimming in money—regardless of how their fortune was attained—will draw people in. “He’s in his 20s, he has a Lambo,” says Ryan. “Why would I listen to anyone else?” .....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 21st, 2023

Argentina"s Trump-like presidential candidate, who proposed making the US dollar the country"s official currency, wins election after his opponent concedes defeat

Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa has conceded defeat to populist Javier Milei, an "anarcho-capitalist" often compared to Donald Trump. Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei arrives to vote in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.(AP Photo/Matias Delacroix) A self-described "anarcho-capitalist" candidate often compared to Donald Trump claimed victory in Argentina's presidential election.  Javier Milei's win comes as his opponent, Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa, conceded defeat. With a Milei victory, the country will swing to the right amid discontent over soaring inflation and rising poverty. Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa conceded defeat to populist Javier Milei in Sunday's fiercely polarized presidential runoff even before the country's electoral authority released official results.Massa congratulated his opponent, a right-wing economist who has promised a dramatic shake-up for many of the nation's institutions and welcomed frequent comparisons of him to former U.S. President Donald Trump.Immediately after Massa's concession speech, the Argentine electoral authority released partial results: With 86.6% of votes tallied, Milei had 55.95% and Massa 44.04%.With a Milei victory, the country will swing to the right amid discontent over soaring inflation and rising poverty, and empower a freshman lawmaker who describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist and got his start as a television talking head blasting what he called the "political caste."Inflation has soared above 140% and poverty has worsened while Massa has held his post. Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist, has proposed to slash the size of the state and rein in inflation, while the government minister he was running against warned people about the negative impacts of such policies. The election forced many to decide which of the two they considered to be the least bad choice.Milei's screeds resonated widely with Argentines angered by their struggle to make ends meet, particularly young men."Money covers less and less each day. I'm a qualified individual, and my salary isn't enough for anything," Esteban Medina, a 26-year-old physical therapist from Ezeiza, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a Milei rally earlier this week.Massa, as one of the most prominent figures in a deeply unpopular administration, was once seen as having little chance of victory. But he managed to mobilize the networks of his Peronist party and clinched a decisive first-place finish in the first round of voting.His campaign cautioned Argentines that his libertarian opponent's plan to eliminate key ministries and otherwise sharply curtail the state would threaten public services, including health and education, and welfare programs many rely on. Massa also drew attention to his opponent's often aggressive rhetoric and openly questioned his mental acuity; ahead of the first round, Milei sometimes carried a revving chainsaw at rallies.Speaking after casting her vote at the stately University of Buenos Aires Law School, Jenifer Pio, 36, told the AP that she fears a Milei victory would risk the return of dictatorship."Milei doesn't have the faintest idea of how to govern," said Pio, a homemaker. "It isn't bad that he's prideful, but he would need to have a bit more stability. He's unstable emotionally and psychologically. He's unwell."Ana Iparraguirre, a partner at pollster GBAO Strategies, said Massa's "only chance to win this election when people want change ... is to make this election a referendum on whether Milei is fit to be president or not.""We're starting a new chapter in Argentina, and this chapter requires not only goodwill, intelligence and capability but above all, dialogue and the necessary consensus for our homeland to traverse a much more virtuous path in the future," Massa told journalists Sunday after casting his ballot.Milei accused Massa and his allies of running a "campaign of fear" and he walked back some of his most controversial proposals, such as loosening gun control. In his final campaign ad, Milei looks at the camera and assures voters he has no plans to privatize education or health care."We did a great job despite the fear campaign and all the dirty tactics they used against us," Milei told journalists after he voted amid a large security operation as dozens of supporters and journalists gathered at his polling place.One of his supporters is María Gabriela Gaviola, a 63-year-old entrepreneur doing everything she can to avoid shuttering her company, which manufactures veterinary products, amid surging prices for materials. And the government hasn't helped, including Massa who has held his ministerial post for over a year."The productive sector of this country isn't considered. How long can a country that doesn't produce be OK?" said Gaviola, who has taken on two side jobs to keep her company afloat. "Truth is, I don't know Milei. I've heard him a bit. I don't know him, but the one who I already know doesn't help me. I prefer to try something new."Most pre-election polls, which have been notoriously wrong at every step of this year's campaign, showed a statistical tie between the two candidates. Voters for first-round candidates who didn't make the runoff will be key. Patricia Bullrich, who placed third, has endorsed Milei.Underscoring the bitter division this campaign has brought to the fore, Milei received both jeers and cheers on Friday night at the legendary Colón Theater in Buenos Aires.Those divisions were also evident Sunday when Milei's running mate, Victoria Villaruel, went to vote and was met by protesters angry at her claims that the number of victims from Argentina's bloody 1976-1983 military dictatorship is far below what human rights organizations have long claimed, among other controversial positions.The vote took place amid Milei's allegations of possible electoral fraud, reminiscent of those from Trump and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Without providing evidence, Milei claimed that the first round of the presidential election was plagued by irregularities that affected the result. Experts say such irregularities cannot swing an election, and that his assertions were partly aimed at firing up his base and motivating his supporters to become monitors of voting stations.Such claims spread widely on social media and, at Milei's rally in Ezeiza earlier this week, all those interviewed told the AP they were concerned about the integrity of the vote.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 19th, 2023

Rein In The FBI: Put An End To Their Gestapo Tactics

Rein In The FBI: Put An End To Their Gestapo Tactics Authored by John and Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “One of the creeping hands of totalitarianism running through the democracy is the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Because why does the FBI do all this? To scare the hell out of people… They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things.” - Howard Zinn, historian Power corrupts. We know this. In fact, we know this from experience learned the hard way at the hands of our own government. So why is anyone surprised to learn that the FBI, one of the most power-hungry and corrupt agencies within the police state’s vast complex of power-hungry and corrupt agencies, misused a massive government surveillance database more than 300,000 times in order to target American citizens? This is how the government operates, after all. First, they seek out extraordinary powers acquired in the wake of some national crisis—in this case, warrantless surveillance powers intended to help the government spy on foreign targets suspected of engaging in terrorism—and then they use those powers against the American people. According to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FBI repeatedly misused Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to spy on the communications of two vastly disparate groups of Americans: those involved in the George Floyd protests and those who may have taken part in the Jan. 6, 2021, protests at the Capitol. This is par for the course for the FBI, whose modus operandi has historically been to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” perceived threats to the government’s power. Indeed, the FBI has a long history of persecuting, prosecuting and generally harassing activists, politicians, and cultural figures. Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, the FBI’s targets were civil rights activists, those suspected of having Communist ties, and anti-war activists. In more recent decades, the FBI has expanded its reach to target so-called domestic extremists, environmental activists, and those who oppose the police state. In 2019, President Trump promised to give the FBI “whatever they need” to investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism, without any apparent thought for the Constitution’s prohibitions on such overreach. That misguided pledge sheds a curious light on the FBI’s ongoing spree of SWAT team raids, surveillance, disinformation campaigns, fear-mongering, paranoia, and strong-arm tactics meted out to dissidents on both the right and the left. Yet while these overreaching, heavy-handed lessons in how to rule by force have become standard operating procedure for a government that communicates with its citizenry primarily through the language of brutality, intimidation and fear, none of this is new. Indeed, the FBI’s love affair with totalitarianism can be traced back to the Nazi police state. As historian Robert Gellately recounts, the Nazi police state was so admired for its efficiency and order by the world powers of the day that in the decades after World War II, the FBI, along with other government agencies, aggressively recruited at least a thousand Nazis, including some of Hitler’s highest henchmen. Since then, U.S. government agencies—the FBI, CIA and the military—have fully embraced many of the Nazi’s well-honed policing tactics, and used them repeatedly against American citizens. With every passing day, the United States government borrows yet another leaf from Nazi Germany’s playbook: Secret police. Secret courts. Secret government agencies. Surveillance. Censorship. Intimidation. Harassment. Torture. Brutality. Widespread corruption. Entrapment. Indoctrination. Indefinite detention. These are not tactics used by constitutional republics, where the rule of law and the rights of the citizenry reign supreme. Rather, they are the hallmarks of authoritarian regimes, where secret police control the populace through intimidation, fear and official lawlessness on the part of government agents. Consider the extent to which the FBI’s far-reaching powers to surveil, detain, interrogate, investigate, prosecute, punish, police and generally act as a law unto themselves resemble those of their Nazi cousins, the Gestapo. Just like the Gestapo, the FBI has vast resources, vast investigatory powers, and vast discretion to determine who is an enemy of the state. Much like the Gestapo spied on mail and phone calls, FBI agents have carte blanche access to the citizenry’s most personal information. Much like the Gestapo’s sophisticated surveillance programs, the FBI’s spying capabilities can delve into Americans’ most intimate details (and allow local police to do so, as well). Much like the Gestapo’s ability to profile based on race and religion, and its assumption of guilt by association, the FBI’s approach to pre-crime allows it to profile Americans based on a broad range of characteristics including race and religion. Much like the Gestapo’s power to render anyone an enemy of the state, the FBI has the power to label anyone a domestic terrorist. Much like the Gestapo infiltrated communities in order to spy on the German citizenry, the FBI routinely infiltrates political and religious groups, as well as businesses. Just as the Gestapo united and militarized Germany’s police forces into a national police force, America’s police forces have largely been federalized and turned into a national police force. Just as the Gestapo carried out entrapment operations, the FBI has become a master in the art of entrapment. Just as the Gestapo’s secret files on political leaders were used to intimidate and coerce, the FBI’s attempts to target and spy on anyone suspected of “anti-government” sentiment have been similarly abused. The Gestapo became the terror of the Third Reich by creating a sophisticated surveillance and law enforcement system that relied for its success on the cooperation of the military, the police, the intelligence community, neighborhood watchdogs, government workers for the post office and railroads, ordinary civil servants, and a nation of snitches inclined to report “rumors, deviant behavior, or even just loose talk.” Likewise, as countless documents make clear, the FBI has had no qualms about using its extensive powers in order to blackmail politicians, spy on celebrities and high-ranking government officials, and intimidate and attempt to discredit dissidents of all stripes. In fact, borrowing heavily from the Gestapo, between 1956 and 1971, the FBI conducted an intensive domestic intelligence program, termed COINTELPRO, intended to neutralize domestic political dissidents. As Congressman Steve Cohen explains, “COINTELPRO was set up to surveil and disrupt groups and movements that the FBI found threatening… many groups, including anti-war, student, and environmental activists, and the New Left were harassed, infiltrated, falsely accused of criminal activity          .” Sound familiar? The more things change, the more they stay the same. Those targeted by the FBI under COINTELPRO for its intimidation, surveillance and smear campaigns included: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, the Black Panther Party, Billie Holiday, Emma Goldman, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Chaplin, Ernest Hemingway, Felix Frankfurter, John Lennon, and hundreds more. The Church Committee, the Senate task force charged with investigating COINTELPRO abuses in 1975, denounced the government’s abuses: “Too many people have been spied upon by too many Government agencies and too much information has been collected. The Government has often undertaken the secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts on behalf of a hostile foreign power.” The report continued: “Groups and individuals have been harassed and disrupted because of their political views and their lifestyles. Investigations have been based upon vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection inevitable. Unsavory and vicious tactics have been employed—including anonymous attempts to break up marriages, disrupt meetings, ostracize persons from their professions, and provoke target groups into rivalries that might result in deaths. Intelligence agencies have served the political and personal objectives of presidents and other high officials.” Whether 50 years ago or in the present day, the treatment being doled out by the government’s lethal enforcers has remained consistent, no matter the threat. The FBI’s laundry list of crimes against the American people includes surveillance, disinformation, blackmail, entrapment, intimidation tactics, harassment and indoctrination, governmental overreach, abuse, misconduct, trespassing, enabling criminal activity, and damaging private property, and that’s just based on what we know. Whether the FBI is planting undercover agents in churches, synagogues and mosques; issuing fake emergency letters to gain access to Americans’ phone records; using intimidation tactics to silence Americans who are critical of the government; recruiting high school students to spy on and report fellow students who show signs of being future terrorists; or persuading impressionable individuals to plot acts of terror and then entrapping them, the overall impression of the nation’s secret police force is that of a well-dressed thug, flexing its muscles and doing the boss’ dirty work of ensuring compliance, keeping tabs on potential dissidents, and punishing those who dare to challenge the status quo. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it’s time to rein in the Federal Bureau of Intimidation’s war on political freedom. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 26th, 2023

The SEC"s crypto crackdown is escalating as it goes after the Winklevoss twins" firm over "unregistered securities." Here"s what they are.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has gone after the Winklevoss twins and Kraken with an attack on supposedly unregistered securities, but what does that mean? Gary Gensler became chair of the SEC in April.Alex Wong/Getty Images The SEC has stepped up its campaign to reign in what its Chair has called the "Wild West" of crypto. Gary Gensler has gone after the Winklevoss twins and Kraken, the world's third-biggest crypto exchange. But its targeting of unregistered assets has left some in the crypto sector with one response: it's war. After lots of calls to clean up the wild west of crypto, it looks like the SEC is finally getting stuck in.It's gone after big names like Gemini and Kraken - and it's using rules on unregistered securities as its key hammer.We explain what those are and what the industry makes of the regulatory crackdown.What has been targeted?The SEC has been swift in recent weeks in its push to reprimand crypto offerings it regards as breaking the rules, leaning on the argument that they are unregistered securities.The highest-profile suit came against the crypto giant Genesis and the Winklevoss twins' Gemini in January, after the SEC accused its disastrous "Gemini Earn" program of being an offering of unregistered securities.Then Kraken, the world's third biggest crypto exchange, last week paid a $30 million settlement to the SEC and agreed to stop its "staking" program, where investors lock in their holdings of digital assets for a interest-based reward.And this week, crypto firm Paxos was forced by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to stop minting its Binance-branded stablecoin after a planned lawsuit from the SEC over the sale of unregistered securities. This differs from previous staking suits. A spokesperson told Insider it categorically disagreed with SEC staff, arguing its BUSD coin was not a security.Why now?The collapse of FTX in November, locking out billions of dollars in customer deposits, has undoubtedly increased the urgency to rein in potentially risky offerings, as did that event's contagion effects on Genesis and Gemini.But regulators' discomfort with crypto stretches back years - as far as the asset has been popular. In October 2021, SEC Chair Gary Gensler referred to the crypto sector as "a bit of the Wild West."Emerging evidence suggests programs like staking have become a means for crypto firms to inflate the value of their assets using consumer funds. An investigation into now-bankrupt crypto giant Celsius found the company had used customer funds to prop up the value its native coin in a bid to return high yields to investors.What is an unregistered security?A security, most simply, is a financial instrument traded for profit. They form the basis of investment contracts for thinks like equities, debt, and derivatives.The SEC points to the Howey Test to determine if an asset can be classed as a security. This test has four prongs, all of which need to be passed to be determined a security: [1] An investment of money [2] in a common enterprise [3] with expectations of a profit [4] to be derived from the efforts of others.In the US, if an asset is deemed to be a security it needs to be registered with the SEC. For example, an initial public offering (IPO) of a stock newly listed on the stock exchange represents the first offering of its freshly registered securities. Securities need to be registered as it gives the issuing company the relevant shareholder information to pay dividends and provide relevant stock-related information. It also helps reduce fraud by keeping on record the legitimate owner of the security.According to the SEC, an unregistered security is simply one that hasn't been rubber-stamped by the regulator. Unregistered securities have been the subject of several scams, with the SEC saying their hallmarks include the promise of high yields with no risk, aggressive sales tactics, and are backed by unqualified investment professionals. As such, their use is limited.Only accredited investors, defined as those with a net worth higher than $1 million or an annual income exceeding $200,000, can trade unregistered securities, essentially locking out most retail investors. The threshold is seen as a gauge of financial sophistication and suggests a buffer for eligible investors against potential losses.The debate in the crypto world, though, doesn't fall on whether the assets should or shouldn't be registered, but more fundamentally on whether they should be classed as securities at all.So, what is the confusion?There's long been a debate whether a digital asset - essentially, software - is a commodity like gold, or a security like an ETF. To this end, crypto is typically regulated by the Commodities and Futures Trade Commission (CFTC), indicating its status as a commodity. Gensler though, has argued most cryptocurrencies meet the legal definition of a security, and should be registered with the SEC.But the evolution of the crypto sector, namely through programs like staking and initial coin offerings (ICOs), are blurring the lines and giving the SEC ammunition to pursue a clampdown. The crackdown focuses on firms that promised returns to clients, whether for staking their crypto for a blockchain or for lending their crypto with a guaranteed percentage return, as with Kraken and Gemini's Earn program respectively. These could be seen as investment contracts.Crypto enthusiasts tend to argue that the asset doesn't pass all four prongs of the Howey test to determine a security or investment contract, as it doesn't generate value through the effort of others.Meanwhile, last week Coinbase's chief legal officer Paul Grewal also rebuffed the idea of staking being a security. In a note, he argued that staking failed all four prongs of the Howey Test, not just the fourth one of value creation."Trying to superimpose securities law onto a process like staking doesn't help consumers at all," Grewal wrote. "Instead, unnecessarily aggressive mandates will prevent US consumers from accessing basic crypto services in the US and push users to offshore, unregulated platforms."More fundamentally, the crypto industry's bigwigs, from Brian Armstrong to Anthony Scaramucci, have piled in on the SEC's ruling on Kraken's "staking" program, describing it as an attack on economic freedoms.What's next?Crypto firms and the SEC will have to wait on the outcome of various lawsuits to set a precedent. The outcome could mean crypto firms having to register offerings and assets as securities, but some argue this has left them in no man's land."Regulation by enforcement is puzzling for crypto enthusiasts," Globalblock Crypto, a digital asset brokerage, said in a note."The SEC claim that "all crypto projects have to do is come in and register," yet when they do, they are just told "no". People are desperately trying to figure out how to offer a product legally whilst getting zero guidance."Scott Melker, "The Wolf of All Streets" crypto trader, had more choice language.""It is clear that the US is going to war with the crypto industry," he tweeted."If it's war they want, it's war they'll get."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytFeb 19th, 2023

Conservative senators hail member-led strategy session as "good first step" in dealing with mounting frustrations about Mitch McConnell"s leadership

Senate Republicans who want a seat at the leadership table next year hosted the first of what may be regular member-led policy talks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to the media during the weekly Senate Republican Leadership press conference at the US Capitol on December 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.Nathan Howard/Getty Images A group of Senate Republicans hosted their first member-led policy discussion on Wednesday. Organizers said nothing concrete came out of the spitballing session but vowed to keep talks going. Attendees said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was in the room but didn't participate. While they doubt they have the votes to derail a bipartisan year-end spending deal appropriators are racing to finish, several Senate Republicans who pressed for a conference-wide meeting on Wednesday said they'd gotten the ball rolling on having more say in the next Congress. "It's the first time since I've been here that we've had a broad discussion on coming up with a mission statement for what we're for," Sen. Mike Braun said upon emerging from the meeting he called along with others determined to pry power from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after the party's midterm elections flop. After quashing Sen. Rick Scott's attempt to wrest control of the caucus from him a few weeks back, McConnell said Braun and the others were free to pull together as many meetings as they see fit — so long as at least five Republicans sign on. As for any changes he might make, McConnell said, rather bluntly, "There's nothing to negotiate." Braun, who is eyeing the exits after jumping into the Hoosier State's 2024 race for governor, billed the midday discussion as very preliminary in terms of ironing out what Republicans feel like they'll be able to accomplish leading into 2024. Insider saw fellow Republicans Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and Josh Hawley of Missouri pop in and out of the hour-plus long meeting to field phone calls or tend to other personal business."Nothing was fleshed out," Braun told reporters at the US Capitol, adding that "I think it's the beginning, maybe, of a more participatory process." He noted, however, that McConnell did not speak during the meeting. Senate GOP leader John Cornyn said this gathering seemed collegial enough — this time.  "We're all very busy people with a lot of demands: family, campaigns, fundraising, our constituents. And everybody's spread pretty thin," the Texas Republican said of the time constraints lawmakers already wrestle with on a daily basis. He gave the meeting organizers credit for trying to find ways for Republicans to come together in the new year after falling short on election day. "We can probably do a better job of being more unified, more strategic. And I think that's what this is about," Cornyn said outside the Senate chamber. Still, convening more meetings, which Cornyn said this group seemed inclined to do, is preferable to the scorched-earth tactics others have embraced in the past. "We've tried government shutdowns. There've been threats to undercut the full faith and credit of the country on things like raising the debt ceiling. So we just need to keep talking," Cornyn said. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who Braun said made a case for needing to rein in government spending, told reporters he'd only just begun to fight. "I think we agreed on having more sessions like that," Johnson said, adding that he's making it his mission to "start looking at more information like this on a regular basis." "This is only just a first step," Johnson said. Co-organizer Sen. Rand Paul said there were no immediate plans to call another meeting, but left the door open to getting together in January since they'll need to work out their internal rules for the 118th Congress anyway.   Sen. Marco Rubio endorsed dragging leadership to the table more often.  "I think they're good meetings to have," Rubio told Insider. And he added that he's looking forward to more. "Every time they call one, I'll be at 'em," he said.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 14th, 2022

High School Girl"s Volleyball Team Banned From Own Locker Room After Complaining About Trans Athlete

High School Girl's Volleyball Team Banned From Own Locker Room After Complaining About Trans Athlete Female high school athletes in Burlington, Vermont have been banned from their own locker room after making complaints to school officials about the inappropriate behavior of a biological male teammate that identifies as trans.  Conflict among the girl's volleyball team at Randolph High School began after a trans team member was allowed into the girl's locker room, where students say he began to make comments that caused the females discomfort.  Despite aggressive school policies defending the preferences of trans students, the girls decided to make a formal complaint about the locker room arrangement.   Rather than taking them seriously or establishing practical measures including giving the trans team member a private changing area, school officials banned the girls from their own locker room instead, hinting that “bullying and harassment charges” could follow.   “It’s a huge thing. Everyone’s asking, ‘So, why aren’t you allowed in the locker room?’” said Blake Allen, who along with her fellow teammates are currently barred from using the locker room after some of the girls on the team objected to allowing a transgender player in the girl’s locker room. “My mom wants me to do this interview to try to make a change,” Allen said. “I feel like for stating my opinion -- that I don’t want a biological man changing with me -- that I should not have harassment charges or bullying charges. They should all be dropped.” In a bizarre twist, the girls (at least 10 of them) are now required to take turns changing in a single stall bathroom while the trans student is allowed free rein to change wherever he pleases. We cannot have biological boys with penises changing next to our daughters in locker rooms, and then have our daughters scolded by the school. This is so backwards. Shame on Vermont! — Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) October 3, 2022 Randolph High School has a history of decidedly leftist political bias, with the school changing their own logo (The Galloping Ghost) in 2020 after complaints that it could be construed as a "KKK reference."  The school superintendent cited "racial justice" as a rationale for changing the mascot, even though it had no relation to racism. The locker room incident in Vermont is just one in an endless array of “trans rights” in public schools taking precedence over the privacy and safety of the vast majority of other students.  In particular, biological men participating in women's school sports has become a major point of contention as endless accommodations are given to trans athletes.  Trans participants have been consistently breaking women's sports records and crushing any hope female athletes have of gaining recognition or scholarships.   School districts in predominantly blue counties and states have responded to student complaints by going on the attack, with accusations of discrimination and bigotry as a means to silence dissent.  This has created an artificial narrative for the past few years, suggesting that there is very little opposition to the presence of biological men in girl's bathrooms and locker rooms.  This narrative was partly what led to a student claiming to be trans entering a girls bathroom in a school in Loudoun Country, Virginia where he raped a female student.   The trans student was reportedly moved to another school after the incident, where he allegedly raped another female student a few months later.  The trans student was found guilty of sexual assault by the Virginia Juvenile Court.    School boards have proven consistently hostile to parental concerns over trans policies while using intimidation tactics to frighten students who ask for privacy.  They have also ignored the vast differences in physical prowess between male and female athletes and allowed biological males to dominate female sports in the name of so-called “equity.” State and county officials have essentially created a special designation among people that identify as trans.  Far beyond concerns of “equal treatment,” entire school policies and functions now revolve around making trans students happy regardless of the impracticality of their demands or any violations of privacy for other children.    They have become a protected class; with incentives and fake applause and a legal shield from criticism.  Such a large societal shift for such a tiny minority of people can only end badly for everyone.       Tyler Durden Mon, 10/03/2022 - 18:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 4th, 2022

The Twitter Whistleblower Needs You to Trust Him

An exclusive interview with Twitter whistleblower Peiter 'Mudge' Zatko, the famous hacker fighting a messy battle with the platform Peiter Zatko, the Twitter whistle-blower, is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. The day before his complaint against the social media company was published, Zatko was sitting in his lawyer’s office in Washington, scrolling through his camera roll to find a photo of his legs locked around someone’s neck. The move is called a side-triangle. It’s totally safe, he says, because the opponent will black out before a lack of blood flow to the brain can cause any lasting damage. One of the things Zatko likes about the martial art, he explains, is that it’s less about brute strength than finding creative ways to maneuver your opponent into a weaker position. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] That talent translates to cybersecurity. In Nov. 2020, Zatko, the hacker known as “Mudge,” was hired as Twitter’s security lead, with a global remit to fix gaping vulnerabilities in one of the world’s most important communications platforms. But 14 months later, he was fired. Six months after that, he filed a sweeping whistle-blower complaint that paints a damning portrait of a company in crisis. In an 84-page complaint to federal regulatory agencies and the Department of Justice, which was first reported by the Washington Post and CNN and which TIME obtained from a congressional source, he describes Twitter as crippled by rudderless and dishonest leadership, beset by “egregious” privacy and security flaws, tainted by foreign influence, a danger to national security, and susceptible even to total collapse. Zatko says he felt an ethical duty to come forward. “Being a public whistle-blower is the last resort, something that I would only ever do after I had exhausted all other means,” he told TIME in a lengthy interview on Aug. 22. “It is not an easy path, but I view it as continuing to help improve the place where I was employed.” Twitter quickly hit back. Zatko was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance,” CEO Parag Agrawal wrote in an email to employees, calling the disclosures a “false narrative that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies” and presented out of context. “Mudge was accountable for many aspects of this work that he is now inaccurately portraying more than six months after his termination,” Agrawal said. The story of how a top Twitter official turned whistle-blower is not a straightforward saga. In more than a dozen interviews with Zatko’s friends, family, and current and former colleagues, the portrait that emerges is more complicated. Eight current and former Twitter employees, who spoke with TIME on condition of anonymity in order to discuss issues they were not authorized to speak publicly about, said that many aspects of Zatko’s disclosures rang true to their experience, particularly his allegations of security deficiencies and shortcomings in company leadership. Some of the same sources, many of whom professed to like and admire Zatko, suggested that various allegations were misleading, overblown, or lacking context—in part because Zatko was straying into areas of the company into which he had only basic insight. Read More: ‘Egregious Deficiencies,’ Bots, and Foreign Agents: The Biggest Allegations From the Twitter Whistle-Blower Zatko’s allegations have emerged at a pivotal moment for Twitter, which is locked in a legal battle over an agreement to sell the company to Elon Musk. That makes the accuracy and credibility of Zatko’s claims a multibillion-dollar issue, and the object of considerable debate by his former colleagues. “Is Mudge generally correct? Yes,” says one current Twitter employee who worked with Zatko. “Where he is correct is that Twitter has absolutely been negligent in creating the appropriate security infrastructure for a company that has the level of impact it has … Is Mudge wrong about lots of things? Also yes. I think there’s a lot of sour grapes.” Zatko had come from a long line of jobs where he had free rein to tear up organizational structures and prioritize security above all else. But at Twitter, current and former colleagues say, he found himself in a different environment: navigating tense internal politics at a corporation bent on boosting revenue, without support from his superiors. Some employees caught up in the tumult perceived Zatko to be a figure hired by then CEO Jack Dorsey for publicity reasons, stepping on the toes of qualified colleagues with more institutional knowledge. Technically brilliant and morally rigid, Zatko was an iconoclast stepping into a corporate bureaucracy. “It’s like asking a doctor who’s been trained to do brain surgery to suddenly become a podiatrist,” says a former Twitter colleague. The polarized reactions to Zatko’s disclosures illustrate just how atypical a tech whistle-blower he is. Last year, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, disclosed tens of thousands of pages of internal company documents that revealed a company prioritizing profits over user safety. But readers didn’t have to take Haugen’s word for it; they could read the words of Facebook’s own safety teams. Zatko is different. As a former senior executive, he had a bird’s-eye view into Twitter’s decisionmaking, ultimately responsible for hundreds of staff in some of Twitter’s most high-priority work streams. But he didn’t release the same breadth of documentation as Haugen; while Zatko supplied some exhibits to support his claims, including internal emails, his partially redacted disclosures rely largely on his own credibility as one of the most celebrated figures in cybersecurity. He is implicitly asking the public to trust that his version of events is the correct one, and that Twitter is lying. Zatko may lose money by coming forward. Half of his compensation at Twitter was in cash, but the rest came in stock, says John Tye of the law firm Whistleblower Aid, which is representing Zatko. The value of those shares dropped by about 9% when news of Zatko’s allegations broke. Tye insists Zatko’s motivations are rooted in a desire to see the company succeed in the long term, not his own financial self-interest. The fate of Twitter’s stock price may be just the first of a cascading series of consequences from Zatko’s disclosures. His contention that Twitter has a bigger bot problem than executives admit may prevent them from forcing completion of the Musk deal. Tye says that his client prefers Twitter to remain a public company, for the public good. “We have concerns if the SEC were to lose jurisdiction if the company goes private, because there’s one less law-enforcement lever,” Tye says. “That’s a problem for accountability.” Zatko told TIME he has never met Musk and did not provide any information to him in advance of his disclosures becoming public knowledge. Zatko’s allegations could ripple out even further, in Washington and beyond. On Sept. 13, he is set to testify in Congress about the allegations, which could spur investigations by the SEC and FTC. That could in turn further erode public faith in social media companies generally, as they face escalating questions about their influence on politics and society, as well as global efforts to rein them in. All of which means the question of what kind of whistle-blower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko is has consequences well beyond Twitter’s future. In his Twitter profile picture, Zatko has flowing, shoulder-length brown hair, with a ring of light hovering above his head like a halo. But it’s been more than two decades since he traded this long-haired look—“hacker Jesus,” his wife Sarah Zatko jokes—for a clean-cut mien befitting a man who’s done tours at the highest levels of government. As Zatko sat down for his interview with TIME on the eve of the allegations becoming public, he sported a crisp goatee flecked with gray, wired spectacles, and a lapel pin depicting the logo of his lawyers, Whistleblower Aid. The profile picture is no accident. Zatko cites his famous work in the 1990s as both the defining era of his life and the grounding for his present morality. “I always ask myself: What would the Mudge of the late ‘90s think about what I’m doing now?” he says of his decision to blow the whistle on Twitter. “I want to make sure I haven’t lost that drive, that my ethics are still just as strong, that I’m fighting for people just as hard.” Dina Litovsky for TIMESarah Zatko at home on Aug. 23, 2022 Zatko is both attuned to and skilled at nurturing the mythology surrounding him. When he was a toddler, his father hung over his crib a mobile made of circuit boards. “He wanted me not to be afraid of technology,” he said in a 2011 interview with a trade magazine. He says he began hacking at the age of 5, picking locks and reverse-engineering computer games with his dad on a late-1970s Apple II computer to get around copyright protections. As a teenager, he spent his time surfing ARPANET, the predecessor to the modern internet, along with the bulletin boards where communities of online hackers were taking shape. Growing up in Alabama and Pennsylvania in the 1980s, his childhood heroes were the social activist Abbie Hoffman and the musician Frank Zappa. Zatko studied the guitar and the violin, and chose music over computer science, attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After graduating, he split his time between playing at clubs with his progressive metal band Raymaker, part-time tech-support work, and working with a high-profile hacker “think tank” called the L0pht (pronounced Loft) to expose corporate security flaws. He would soon become its most prominent member and went on to join a hacking cooperative known as the Cult of the Dead Cow. At the L0pht, Zatko pioneered a strategy of publicly embarrassing companies that refused to patch vulnerabilities that he and his fellow hackers had flagged to them. His biggest nemesis in the 1990s was Microsoft. When Zatko and his colleagues showed it was possible to insert malicious code to run secretly on any machine, Microsoft ignored it. So the L0pht released a user-friendly tool that allowed anybody to break into Windows users’ personal accounts, reasoning that it was the only way to force the company to finally fix its vulnerabilities. It worked. Today, Zatko says, Microsoft has one of the most advanced security programs in the world. Still, “responsible disclosure,” as the tactic of public embarrassment became known, is a bit of a misnomer. Criminals could use the hacking program he released to crack passwords in less than 24 hours, enabling them to steal credit-card or medical data from innocent users using unpatched machines. Zatko says that he thought “long and hard” before deciding that releasing the tool was the only way to make Microsoft change its ways and protect its users, even if some people got hurt in the short term. “Dishonesty is definitely something that frustrates him,” says his wife Sarah, a former mathematician at the National Security Agency. “It doesn’t mean he’s always trying to make a big public fuss, because if you can get things fixed … through proper channels it’s always easier on everybody. But if that’s not possible, there’s always this fallback.” Zatko and other members of the L0pht agreed to testify about internet security on Capitol Hill in May 1998. In the congressional hearing room, they were identified on their placards only by their hacker names. Zatko sat in the center of the group of seven hackers and did most of the talking. Even then, he flashed a flair for the dramatic, getting lawmakers’ attention by infamously claiming he could take down the internet in 30 minutes. “How can we be expected to protect the system and the network,” Zatko asked the assembled Senators, “when all of the seven individuals seated before you can tear down the foundation that the network was built upon?” Douglas Graham—Congressional Quarterly/Getty ImagesComputer hackers from the L0pht testify before a Senate Governmental Affairs hearing on government computer security on May 19, 1998 Still in his 20s, he began to work as an unofficial adviser on internet-security issues to Richard Clarke, who would become the cybersecurity czar for three different U.S. Presidents. A photo from 2000 shows Zatko at the first White House meeting on cybersecurity, talking to then President Bill Clinton. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, cybersecurity suddenly became an urgent part of counterterrorism strategy. Bad actors and “spam gangs” run out of Russia and Eastern Europe were releasing viruses and other malware, wreaking havoc on systems unprepared to counter them. Zatko began advising U.S. intelligence agencies and the military for free. Zatko was shaken by what he uncovered when he started digging. “I started to figure out numerous ways of knocking the financial sector down,” he says. “It just started to dawn on me that I, as an individual actor, could wreak serious havoc. And this is shortly after 9/11.” He had a bad reaction to drugs that his psychiatrist prescribed to deal with his rising anxiety, which only made things worse. It took a long time for him to emotionally recover. “Every security professional has the moment where they have started to learn enough about the field that all of a sudden they have this existential crisis,” says Zatko’s wife Sarah. “Then you either become [nihilistic] and everything’s hopeless, or else you have to figure out a way to get past it and try to fix your corner of things.” Out of his rut and adopting that new mindset, Zatko was tapped in 2010 to lead cybersecurity efforts at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). “I didn’t go there because I thought it was cool. I didn’t go there because I wanted to be a part of the government,” he told the audience at the DEF CON hacker conference in 2013. “I actually went there because I thought they and other parts of government had kind of lost their way, and I had an opportunity to go in and fix it.” One of his first moves was bringing in hackers and forcing career officials at the military office to spend three days in a conference room with them, says Renee Rush, a U.S. Air Force veteran who worked with him at the agency. “Mudge could go anywhere and get a big paycheck,” Rush says, “but you’ll never find him in a job that doesn’t have a distinctive mission.” AlamyPresident Clinton meets with technology leaders, including Peiter “ Zatko’s sense of principle has a way of engendering loyalty among his many mentees, both inside and outside his field. Ryan Hall, a champion mixed martial artist, became close friends with Zatko after Zatko joined Hall’s gym in Arlington, Va., in 2010 to practice jiu-jitsu. He recalls seeing Zatko at a coffee shop a block from the gym, sporting jeans and a T-shirt, surrounded by men in well-cut suits. “Peiter has very little time for moral waffling,” Hall says. After 3½ years, Zatko left DARPA for stints doing security research at Google and the payment processor Stripe. He cast both as companies that took security advice seriously. “The executives actually back security and let us do things differently (otherwise I wouldn’t be there!),” he tweeted approvingly in 2018 while at Stripe. Over the years, internet security has grown more complicated as its impact expands beyond scams, cyberattacks, and corporate or government security hacks. Zatko publicly expressed his frustration that veteran security experts’ advice was being ignored in the lead-up to the 2016 election. The Democratic National Committee reached out to him for help to improve its network and information security, but even his most basic suggestions were considered too “annoying,” he said. “DNC creates Cybersecurity board made up of well-meaning people with no cybersecurity expertise,” he tweeted in August 2016. “Your move Russia…” Four years later, after the Trump era showed just how essential the security of social media platforms was for safeguarding democracy, Zatko was sitting in his home office in New Jersey. The room is in an extension with no central heating or cooling system. In the winter, it is warmed by “way too many” computer cores—over 100, he estimates. It’s a messy space, with dog-eared textbooks strewn across the floor and framed letters of praise from national security luminaries on the walls. Zatko’s phone rang. On the other end was Dorsey. The man who had co-founded Twitter addressed him as Mudge, and told Zatko the hacker’s work during the 1990s was one of the reasons he pursued a tech career. “That just blew my mind,” Zatko recalls. “I’m talking to the guy who created, let’s face it, a platform that is critical worldwide. It influences governments, social change, it is the perception many people have of the world. And he was telling me that he was interested in me.” Zatko eventually decided to accept the unorthodox job Dorsey was offering, overseeing Twitter’s entire security operations, both data and physical. Zatko saw the protection of a platform as influential as Twitter as perhaps his most effective way to “make a dent in the universe”—a personal motto originating from his time at the L0pht. The move was hailed by experts as a sign of Twitter’s serious commitment to fixing long-standing security issues. As one security analyst put it, “A rare moment of cybersecurity sunshine where it seems the right person is put in the lead on addressing a major issue.” Twitter needed him. The company was reeling from one of the most embarrassing incidents in its 16-year history. In July 2020, a trio that included two teenagers used extremely basic phishing methods to gain access to the accounts of Twitter employees. They were then able to send tweets from the accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and a slew of other blue-checked accounts, setting up a scam that netted them over $100,000 in Bitcoin. The incident was hardly the company’s first major security lapse. The year before, the U.S. government had accused two Twitter employees of being moles for the Saudi Arabian government. This month, one of them was found guilty in federal court. Back in 2011, the FTC had filed a complaint against Twitter for failing to protect consumer information. That complaint was supposed to result in Twitter implementing a robust security program resistant to cyberattacks. Yet the success of the July 2020 hackers showed how vulnerable the platform remained. “While Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Meta consistently put out new features to help people protect their accounts and information, Twitter’s focus seemed to be a bit stale,” says Runa Sandvik, a privacy and security researcher. “It’s unclear what Twitter was doing in that space, if anything at all.” Zatko’s whistle-blower complaint says he expected to spend the remainder of his career working at Twitter. But it quickly became apparent that the company was “a decade behind” its competitors, he wrote in a staff memo included in the disclosures. Teams fighting bots were understaffed and overworked, he alleges, and internal security measures Twitter promised to develop in the wake of the 2011 FTC mandate had yet to be rolled out. Zatko’s complaint claims that a serious security breach was occurring at Twitter on average every week. Read More: What the Twitter Whistle-blower Disclosure Means for Elon Musk. On Jan. 6, 2021, Zatko was watching the Capitol insurrection unfold online and asked a Twitter engineering executive to curtail employees’ access to internal systems. He learned that too many employees had irrevocable access. One rogue engineer with the right system privileges could have sabotaged the platform, sowing misinformation and discord, Zatko alleges in his disclosure. Zatko tried to patch these holes. He shuttered several existing security and privacy programs in favor of a new department, optimistically named Confidence. He drew up a three-year plan to improve defense efforts and measure spam bots, which he alleges were running rampant and unchecked across the platform. According to his disclosure, he was met with continual pushback at senior levels of the company, and when it came to security issues, he says, “deliberate ignorance” was the norm. Some product managers were “encouraged” to override security and privacy issues in order to release new products more quickly, his complaint alleges. Current and former Twitter employees who spoke with TIME corroborated the general sweep of Zatko’s allegations that Twitter often prioritized profit over security. “Unless you can make a compelling trade-off argument for why improved security or privacy will benefit the business more than their cost,” says one former Twitter employee, “it’s very hard to enforce change.” Zatko’s complaint adds that his efforts to inform Twitter’s board about various security issues were met with alarm or anger, and that at least twice he was asked by executives to withhold information from the board. Twitter declined multiple requests from TIME to address specific parts of Zatko’s allegations. In his email dated Aug. 23, Agrawal said Zatko’s disclosures as a whole had many inaccuracies in them. Meanwhile, Dorsey, the man who Zatko thought would be his main ally, was increasingly absent and unfocused, Zatko’s disclosure says. A representative for Dorsey’s company, Block, did not respond to a request for comment for this story. The situation began to come to a head in November 2021, when Dorsey resigned. His replacement was Agrawal, who had formerly been the most senior executive in charge of security issues before Zatko arrived. Tensions between the two quickly escalated. Zatko says in his disclosures that he became concerned that Agrawal was going to use the first board meeting of his tenure to diminish the severity of security issues. He wrote to Agrawal on Dec. 15, arguing that there were “numerous, and some significant, misrepresentations” in materials for an upcoming presentation, according to emails contained in the complaint. Agrawal brushed him off, Zatko’s complaint alleges, and the next day, the documents were presented at a high-level Risk Committee board meeting. In a Jan. 4, 2022, email to Agrawal, Zatko called the documents “at worst fraudulent,” and wrote, “I was hired to achieve certain goals and to fix problems here at Twitter. In order to do that, we need to recognize the actual state of affairs at the company.” A few days later, Agrawal wrote back to Zatko, saying that the company had launched an internal investigation into Zatko’s allegations of “fraud.” Zatko was asked for a detailed report to back up his claims, which he began to pull together. Less than two weeks later, before he was able to file the report, he was fired. Zatko retained Whistleblower Aid on March 17, a month before Musk offered to buy Twitter. He concluded he had no choice but to blow the whistle. “Change sometimes requires, you know, kicking the hornet’s nest a little bit,” he says. “Ethically and morally, I had to pursue this.” In interviews, current and former Twitter officials had differing perspectives on Zatko’s allegations. Several said that Zatko was right about many things, including data-management issues, chaotic leadership, and platform vulnerabilities. But some felt he mischaracterized or exaggerated certain details in the disclosure, particularly when it came to issues that he himself did not work on. “He didn’t know what was happening with the bots stuff,” says a current employee who worked with Zatko. “That did not fall under his security purview.” Zatko’s attorneys dispute this, arguing that he did in fact have insight into and authority over the bots issue as the ultimate supervisor of Twitter Services, which oversees global content moderation at scale. The disagreement can be chalked up to Twitter’s messy organizational structure, in which different arms of the company have competing claims to ownership of the bots issue. Hannah McKay—AFP/Getty ImagesJack Dorsey, chief executive officer of Twitter, testifies remotely during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “ Other parts of Zatko’s disclosures simply pit his word against Twitter’s. One of his most explosive claims is that Twitter “knowingly” hired “agents” of the Indian government. Because of access privileges afforded to many Twitter employees, Zatko says in his disclosure, these alleged agents could access sensitive user data. The hires came at a time when the Indian government was bristling at Twitter’s refusal to identify details about people using the platform to criticize the nation’s ruling party. Zatko had direct responsibility for the physical security of employees at Twitter, and would likely have been directly briefed on alleged espionage efforts. The disclosures state that Zatko has given more details about this incident to the Department of Justice and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Twitter declined multiple requests from TIME to address Zatko’s claims about Indian agents on the record. One person with direct knowledge of Twitter’s internal affairs in India told TIME they had no knowledge of the supposed agent, but said they would not be surprised if the Indian government had at least tried to covertly appoint an agent to Twitter’s payroll, similar to the Saudi case. Some of Zatko’s other claims strike experts as overstated. His disclosure argues that Twitter’s failure to own the rights to training data of machine-learning models constitutes “fraud,” for example. That shortcoming is an industry-wide practice, according to two former Twitter employees and others familiar with industry standards. As the pushback mounts, Zatko tells TIME he stands by his allegations and for legal reasons is unable to talk about his time at Twitter beyond what’s in the disclosures. “I was aware of the most common tactics that would happen, that there would be attempts to character assassinate me or make things personal—anything that would distract from the data and the problem at hand,” Zatko says. While Zatko describes his decision to go public in idealistic terms, the timing of the disclosures is notable. The trial to decide whether Musk must go through with his initial agreement to buy Twitter is set to start in Delaware on Oct. 17. Zatko inserts himself into this battle from the opening pages of his disclosure, claiming that Twitter is “lying about bots to Elon Musk.” Zatko may be drawn directly into the court case: Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, tells TIME his team has subpoenaed Zatko, although Zatko’s lawyers say he has received no such subpoena. Two legal experts say they’re skeptical Zatko’s claims will have a major impact on the lawsuit. He provides scant new information about spam bots, and what he does claim about them has little to do with the merger agreement. Ann Lipton, a law professor at Tulane University, says that Zatko’s claims that Twitter lied in its SEC filings will be hard to prove. “When a disgruntled employee disagrees with management decisions,” Lipton says, “that’s frequently not taken as a sufficient basis for treating an SEC filing as false.” “The question ultimately boils down to the credibility of the assertions made by the whistle-blower, and that is usually determined by the existence of hard evidence,” says Howard Fischer, a former SEC attorney. “Twitter’s real regulatory risk lies in whether or not the documentary evidence, and not the potentially self-serving statements of a former employee, shows knowing or reckless misleading of regulators or investors in public filings and statements.” Greg Kahn for TIMEZatko attending meetings in Washington on Aug. 23, 2022 The disclosures could have other long-lasting financial and political ramifications. The company’s stock price dropped by around 9% in the wake of the disclosures’ publication. The same day, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Democratic Representative Frank Pallone announced they were investigating Zatko’s claims, with Pallone calling for “the need to pass comprehensive privacy legislation.” Zatko’s allegations have demoralized Twitter employees, some current staffers say, and may exacerbate a brain drain at a company that has lost many of its leaders and significantly slowed its spending while in Musk-induced limbo. Twitter still has a significant impact on elections and political discourse around the world, and those who are still working on its security and privacy teams will “have to work three or four times harder,” says a former Twitter employee. Knowing that his actions would cause corporate chaos and catalyze government investigations, Zatko says he made his decision with one goal in mind: to make Twitter, and thus the world, safer. Although right now the public can only take him at his word, that may not hold true for long. When he testifies before Congress in September, Zatko—who refused to discuss the meat of his complaint in his interview with TIME—will have the legal cover to expand on the allegations, potentially revealing new and damaging details about what happened within Twitter. Zatko is not the youthful star hacker he used to be. Two days before his interview with TIME, he broke a toe while sparring with a jiu-jitsu opponent, an accident he chalks up in part to partial paralysis of his back, which he says his doctor told him has been brought on by the stress of the past few months. Injury, however, may be necessary if you’re going to engage in the fight. “If you’re just reacting to what an adversary is doing, they’re the ones that are moving you around and manipulating you,” he says. “That’s all too common in this industry.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein, Nik Popli, Simmone Shah, and Julia Zorthian.....»»

Category: topSource: timeAug 25th, 2022

Worries About Scorching Inflation And A Global Slowdown Keep Investors Nervous

Uncertain outlook keeps stock markets volatile. FTSE 100 opens down 1% with miners on the back foot. Covid horror story not yet over as China lockdowns continue. Strong US jobs figures add to expectations of aggressive rate hikes. Recession warning lights blink in bond markets. Scorching Inflation “The uncertain outlook is keeping stock markets volatile […] Uncertain outlook keeps stock markets volatile. FTSE 100 opens down 1% with miners on the back foot. Covid horror story not yet over as China lockdowns continue. Strong US jobs figures add to expectations of aggressive rate hikes. Recession warning lights blink in bond markets. Scorching Inflation “The uncertain outlook is keeping stock markets volatile as worries wax and wane about scorching inflation and a global slowdown while Covid fears rear up again. Nerves are also frayed given that earnings season is also kicking off this week and US multinationals will be giving updates about how slowing consumer and businesses sentiment and rising costs may be affecting the bottom line. Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Find A Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. The FTSE 100 has fallen 1% in early trade, with mining giants topping the lists of fallers. Worries are ratcheting up about the global downturn hitting demand for commodities. Iron ore prices have fallen to levels not seen since December, as stockpiles of steel build up following a slump in the Chinese property sector, while companies tread water impatient for Beijing’s promised infrastructure boost to materialise. Signs that the Covid horror story is still not quite over are rattling nerves. China has re-imposed strict rules with 30 million people back in lockdown in six cities and region, including parts of Shanghai. Residents are being urged to share heart-warming tales to make isolation more bearable, but the latest crackdown has sent a cold chill across financial markets amid worries fresh supply chain issues and weakening demand will hit, just as hopes of recovery had crept up. What’s particularly perturbing is the discovery of a new variant of Omicron, adding to fears it could spread rapidly to other regions in China. Stock Market Worries The central worry affecting stock markets right now is that as central banks around the world take more aggressive steps to dampen down inflation, it will cause demand to fall rapidly pushing economies into reverse. With the American labour market looking so buoyant right now, expectations have risen that the US Federal Reserve will try and deflate red hot prices by hiking interest rates by 0.75% at the next meeting and keep the pressure on in the months to come. Forecasts that this will squeeze out growth in the economy are coming thick and fast, and that’s reflected in the bond markets which are now pricing in a sharp deceleration of inflation over the next few years. A recession warning light is blinking with the two year bond yields, commanding higher yields than ten year bonds, given that this inversion is often seen as a sign that recession could be looming. Investors who tie up their money for longer periods of time usually are rewarded with higher yields. Right now the curve is indicating that investors expect the Federal Reserve will put its foot down hard on the accelerator of rate rises to rein inflation but then put on the brakes to stop the economy slamming into a brick wall of a deep recession. In Europe, energy security concerns also rising with the biggest pipeline supplying Russian gas to Germany closing for maintenance. Speculation has swirled that the closure could end up being extended by Russia as part of strong arm tactics to punish European nations for the sanctions imposed for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The progress of repair work will be watched closely and any indication that delays are looming could see a fresh scurry upwards in European gas prices.” Article by Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown About Hargreaves Lansdown Over 1.7 million clients trust us with £132.2 billion (as at 30 April 2022), making us the UK’s number one platform for private investors. More than 98% of client activity is done through our digital channels and over 600,000 access our mobile app each month. Updated on Jul 11, 2022, 3:41 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJul 11th, 2022

Crisis Of Faith: Politicians & Press Escalate Attacks On Legitimacy Of Supreme Court

Crisis Of Faith: Politicians & Press Escalate Attacks On Legitimacy Of Supreme Court Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column on the growing attacks on the legitimacy of the Supreme Court after the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. As the Court ends its term, Democratic leaders are calling for removing justices, packing the Court, and other extreme reactions to the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Here is the column: For justices, the end of a Supreme Court term usually brings welcomed vacations and speaking engagements out of town. This week it seemed more like the justices were fleeing the jurisdiction with a mob at their heels. Six justices (and their homes) are targeted because they dared to interpret the Constitution in a way that is opposed by many in the political, media, and academic establishment. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many called for impeachments, court packing, and “disciplining” justices. What is chilling, however, is that these calls have not come from extremist groups but political and media figures who are challenging the very  “legitimacy” of the Supreme Court. The Madisonian democracy is based on the premise that, despite our factional divisions, the Constitution creates an interest in all groups in preserving the system. While the Constitution does not guarantee that your views will prevail in Congress or the courts, it has proven the most stable and successful democratic system in history.  We are all invested in that system which has achieved transformative changes over time in our laws and our society. The Constitution is neither poetic nor pretentious in its language. It was written by the ultimate wonk in Madison. It has only one thing to recommend it: we are still here.  We have survived periods of war, economic collapse, and social discord that broke other systems. Politicians and the press have thrived under this system and have historically defended its legitimacy even when demanding major changes in our laws. We are now witnessing a crisis of faith with the political and media establishment declaring the highest court to be illegitimate. All because they disagree with a constitutional interpretation adopted by the majority of its members. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, has declared the Supreme Court illegitimate and has called to pack the Court for rending opinions against “widely held public opinion.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., even questioned the institution’s value: “How much does the current structure benefit us? And I don’t think it does.” She has now demanded the impeachment of Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch based on the entirely false claim that they lied under oath in their confirmation hearings. After the Dobbs decision, Ocasio-Cortez demanded “there must be consequences” for the Court. Other leaders like Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., issued a warning to the Supreme Court: Reaffirm Roe v. Wade or face a “revolution.” The media has amplified these extreme calls. In the New York Times, columnist Jamelle Bouie wrote an outline of how Democrats could rein in the high court in a piece titled, “How to Discipline a Rogue Supreme Court.” He wrote that the Supreme Court does not exist above the constitutional system and added that the “rogue” court “cannot shield itself from the power of other branches.” Bouie’s discipline includes impeaching or removing justices as well as packing the court. Notably, like many others demanding radical changes to the Court, Bouie previously advocated the change that is most responsible for creating the Court’s current composition. Like many liberals, Bouie demanded that the Senate kill the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees. At the time, some of us warned the Democrats that the move was uniquely short-sighted and that they would rue the day that they took such a moronic step. As predicted, the Democrats soon found themselves in the minority without the protection of the filibuster rule and could not block nominees. They gained comparably little from the change given what they lost, including ultimately Roe v. Wade. Rather than admit that their prior attack on the filibuster backfired, liberals are now demanding even more radical moves like a bad gambler at Vegas who just keeps doubling down in the hopes of winning a hand. It does not matter that the Court is not as rigidly ideological or dysfunctionally divided as widely claimed. If anything, it has shown fewer divisions in most cases. Before the opinion, ABC admitted that “67% of the court’s opinions in cases argued during the term that ends this month have been unanimous or near-unanimous with just one justice dissenting.That compares to just 46% of unanimous or near-unanimous decisions during the 2019 term and the 48% average unanimous decision rate of the past decade.” Yet, after the decision, ABC’s legal analyst Terry Moran described the term as a “new era” of the “activist court.” This crisis of faith is evident in other key constituencies in our system, including in our law schools. Law professors like Berkeley Dean Erwin Chemerinksy have called the justices “partisan hacks” while others have supported targeting the individual justices at their home. Georgetown Law Professor Josh Chafetz declared that “when the mob is right, some (but not all!) more aggressive tactics are justified.” Most recently, the dean and chancellor of University of California Hastings College of the Law David Faigman questioned the legitimacy of the Court after the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.   Writing in his official capacity, Faigman went as far as to claim that “this decision turns back the clock not just to 1973, but to a century when women did not have the right to vote and were, largely, treated as property . .  . the world today is so much less generous and inclusive than it was just yesterday. I tremble for my granddaughters.” Faigman declared that the “the Court itself, which is a product of political gerrymandering—raises basic questions regarding the legitimacy of the Court itself.” From Congress to the press to academia, the very foundation of the Court is being challenged. What is notable is that these are also the voices of some of the most powerful figures in our society. Rather than seek to moderate the mob, they are fueling the rage with such reckless rhetoric. There are good-faith objections to this decision but those objections challenge the legitimacy of the holding, not the institution itself. As Benjamin Franklin noted “The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.” Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 29th, 2022

The Illusion Of Freedom: We"re Only As Free As The Government Allows

The Illusion Of Freedom: We're Only As Free As The Government Allows Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter. Sooner or later, the people in this country are gonna realize the government … doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety… It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing. Keeping it and expanding it wherever possible.” - George Carlin We’re in a national state of denial. For years now, the government has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with the American people, letting us enjoy just enough freedom to think we are free but not enough to actually allow us to live as a free people. Case in point: on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court appeared inclined to favor a high school football coach’s right to pray on the field after a game, the high court let stand a lower court ruling that allows police to warrantlessly track people’s location and movements through their personal cell phones, sweeping Americans up into a massive digital data dragnet that does not distinguish between those who are innocent of wrongdoing, suspects, or criminals. Likewise, although the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for a death row inmate to have his pastor audibly pray and lay hands on him in the execution chamber, it refused to stop police from using hidden cameras to secretly and warrantlessly record and monitor a person’s activities outside their home over an extended period of time. For those who have been paying attention, there’s a curious pattern emerging: the government appears reasonably tolerant of those who want to exercise their First Amendment rights in a manner that doesn’t challenge the police state’s hold on power, for example, by praying on a football field or in an execution chamber. On the other hand, dare to disagree with the government about its war crimes, COVID-19, election outcomes or police brutality, and you’ll find yourself silenced, cited, shut down and/or branded an extremist. The U.S. government is particularly intolerant of speech that reveals the government’s corruption, exposes the government’s lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices. For instance, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the latest victim of the government’s war on dissidents and whistleblowers, is in the process of being extradited to the U.S. to be tried under the Espionage Act for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the U.S. government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths. Even political protests are fair game for prosecution. In Florida, two protesters are being fined $3000 for political signs proclaiming stating “F—k Biden,” “F—k Trump,” and “F—k Policing 4 Profit” that violate a city ban on “indecent” speech on signs, clothing and other graphic displays. The trade-off is clear: pray all you want, but don’t mess with the U.S. government. In this way, the government, having appointed itself a Supreme and Sovereign Ruler, allows us to bask in the illusion of religious freedom while stripping us of every other freedom afforded by the Constitution. We’re in trouble, folks. Freedom no longer means what it once did. This holds true whether you’re talking about the right to criticize the government in word or deed, the right to be free from government surveillance, the right to not have your person or your property subjected to warrantless searches by government agents, the right to due process, the right to be safe from militarized police invading your home, the right to be innocent until proven guilty and every other right that once reinforced the founders’ belief that this would be “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Not only do we no longer have dominion over our bodies, our families, our property and our lives, but the government continues to chip away at what few rights we still have to speak freely and think for ourselves. My friends, we’re being played for fools. On paper, we may be technically free. In reality, however, we are only as free as a government official may allow. We only think we live in a constitutional republic, governed by just laws created for our benefit. Truth be told, we live in a dictatorship disguised as a democracy where all that we own, all that we earn, all that we say and do—our very lives—depends on the benevolence of government agents and corporate shareholders for whom profit and power will always trump principle. And now the government is litigating and legislating its way into a new framework where the dictates of petty bureaucrats carry greater weight than the inalienable rights of the citizenry. With every court ruling that allows the government to operate above the rule of law, every piece of legislation that limits our freedoms, and every act of government wrongdoing that goes unpunished, we’re slowly being conditioned to a society in which we have little real control over our lives. As Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone and an insightful commentator on human nature, once observed, “We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.” Indeed, not only are we developing a new citizenry incapable of thinking for themselves, we’re also instilling in them a complete and utter reliance on the government and its corporate partners to do everything for them—tell them what to eat, what to wear, how to think, what to believe, how long to sleep, who to vote for, whom to associate with, and on and on. In this way, we have created a welfare state, a nanny state, a police state, a surveillance state, an electronic concentration camp—call it what you will, the meaning is the same: in our quest for less personal responsibility, a greater sense of security, and no burdensome obligations to each other or to future generations, we have created a society in which we have no true freedom. Government surveillance, police abuse, SWAT team raids, economic instability, asset forfeiture schemes, pork barrel legislation, militarized police, drones, endless wars, private prisons, involuntary detentions, biometrics databases, free speech zones, etc.: these are mile markers on the road to a fascist state where citizens are treated like cattle, to be branded and eventually led to the slaughterhouse. Freedom, or what’s left of it, is being threatened from every direction. The threats are of many kinds: political, cultural, educational, media, and psychological. However, as history shows us, freedom is not, on the whole, wrested from a citizenry. It is all too often given over voluntarily and for such a cheap price: safety, security, bread, and circuses. This is part and parcel of the propaganda churned out by the government machine. That said, what we face today—mind manipulation and systemic violence—is not new. What is different are the techniques used and the large-scale control of mass humanity, coercive police tactics and pervasive surveillance. We are overdue for a systemic check on the government’s overreaches and power grabs. By “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law. For years now, we have suffered the injustices, cruelties, corruption and abuse of an entrenched government bureaucracy that has no regard for the Constitution or the rights of the citizenry. We have lingered too long in this strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace—rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law. Where we find ourselves now is in the unenviable position of needing to rein in all three branches of government—the Executive, the Judicial, and the Legislative—that have exceeded their authority and grown drunk on power. We are the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority. This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government: from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often than not, elitist and biased towards government entities and corporations. The predators of the police state are wreaking havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government doesn’t listen to the citizenry, it refuses to abide by the Constitution, which is our rule of law, and it treats the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. The American kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves) has sucked the American people down a rabbit hole into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry is powerless to defend itself against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere. This dissolution of that sacred covenant between the citizenry and the government—establishing “we the people” as the masters and the government as the servant—didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen because of one particular incident or one particular president. It is a process, one that began long ago and continues in the present day, aided and abetted by politicians who have mastered the polarizing art of how to “divide and conquer.” Unfortunately, there is no magic spell to transport us back to a place and time where “we the people” weren’t merely fodder for a corporate gristmill, operated by government hired hands, whose priorities are money and power. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, our freedoms have become casualties in an all-out war on the American people. If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end. Tyler Durden Wed, 04/27/2022 - 23:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 27th, 2022

Scammers are using video games to fake footage of war in Ukraine and the China Eastern Airlines plane crash

One video that was viewed thousands of times claimed to show the moment a plane crashed in China. It was a flight simulation first uploaded in 2019. A screen capture of a flight simulation software.Michael Dunning/Getty Images Video shared on Twitter on Monday claimed to show video from inside the plane that crashed in China. But the video was from a flight simulator and had been uploaded to YouTube years prior. Similar deceptive recordings from video games have been shared about war in Ukraine.  A viral video that has racked up hundreds of thousands of views across social media claims to show the last moments aboard China Eastern Airlines' Flight MU-5735, seconds before the plane crashed on Monday killing all 132 passengers. In reality, the footage is from a video game and shows no such thing.The 10-second video clip shows a plane appearing to turn upside down before it seems to meet the ground with a loud crash, silencing the screaming heard throughout the clip. One version of the video, which was still posted to Twitter on Tuesday and claimed to show "the last moment recorded on the plane," had more than 210,000 views and was retweeted hundreds of times. Another since-deleted tweet featuring the video received nearly 400,000 views.The video that circulated was actually first uploaded to YouTube a little more than three years ago, and its description explicitly states it is a computer simulation of a 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash. Despite only being a speculative amateur simulation, the video has been viewed more than 33 million times since it was posted in March 2019. The clip's migration to Twitter on Monday is the latest example of footage from a video game or computer simulation being used in an effort to rack up likes on social media by claiming it represents footage from a real-world event. As graphics have gotten more realistic in recent years, experts say these types of videos have become a cheap and easy form of spreading misinformation.Similar tactics have also been utilized to spread misinformation and disinformation following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24. One video that spread on Facebook in late February purported to show a video of an ace Ukrainian fighter pilot known as "the Ghost of Kyiv" shooting down Russian aircraft. The footage was actually from a free online video game called Digital Combat Simulator, PolitiFact reported, and it's likely that the "Ghost of Kyiv" is a viral myth that has propagated during the war."This footage is from DCS, but is nevertheless made out of respect for 'The Ghost of Kiev,'" the YouTube video's description stated.Fact-checkers have been dealing with video game footage for yearsThese types of misinformation videos appeared to gain traction in the early years of the Syrian civil war, Emerson Brooking, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, told Insider. The quality of video games visuals has increased exponentially in a relatively short span, and it's become easier for social-media clout chasers and others with more nefarious intentions to pass them off as real footage.Fake footage cribbed from simulations and videos has had varying degrees of success in deceiving people. The video claiming to be from Monday's plane crash was extremely easy to disprove, Brooking said, because it didn't take much to determine passengers hadn't actually filmed and uploaded any videos leading up to the crash.But in other instances, Brooking said, disproving these videos has been more difficult. It's been an issue that researchers and fact-checkers have been dealing with for almost a decade."I don't know exactly when this started, but it was certainly at least concurrent with the release of ARMA 3," he said of the fake videos, particularly ones depicting scenes from conflict zones. ARMA 3, a military tactical shooter game that was released in 2013, marked one of the first instances where screen-recorded video game captures could look like footage from a "contemporary battlefield," according to Brooking. Other video games that have been used to spread fake videos and photos online include Call of Duty and Digital Combat Simulator World, he added."There are moments of conflict coverage during the Syrian civil war or during the aftermath of the 2014 invasion of Ukraine by Russia where you would have these — often ARMA — screenshots and video circulating," Brooking said.In 2017, the Russian Ministry of Defense posted a photo of what it said showed "irrefutable proof" of the US aiding an ISIS convoy in Syria. In reality, the picture was a screenshot from the mobile game AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron, the BBC reported.A year earlier, the Russian embassy tweeted a low-resolution screenshot from the game Command & Conquer: Generals to illustrate its claim about "extremists" receiving "several truckloads of chemical ammo" in Aleppo, according to the CBC. "In the absence of real photos or videos to back up their claims, they turn to these computer-generated screenshots, and maybe the wider world wasn't fooled, but people who were susceptible to Russian or Syrian regime propaganda in the first place might take that as an article of faith," Brooking said.Once the clips go viral they can quickly become disassociated from their original source and hard to rein in. When the same Twitter account that posted the fake footage of the China Eastern Airlines crash clarified they were unable to "verify the authenticity" of the video, their follow-up tweet was shared just six times compared with the hundreds of thousands who saw the initial clip.These videos can also spread, in part, because modern warfare has become nearly indistinguishable with clips from war video games, Brooking said. The rise in drone footage has also created videos from the real world that mirror aerial footage from video games, he added.As video games have gotten better at resembling actual war, the footage from conflicts has also begun to mimic video games."The spectacle of war video games has in many ways merged with modern war imagery," Brooking said. "The fact is that now we see numerous cases where soldiers are wearing GoPros and shooting from a first-person perspective."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 23rd, 2022

What Is The Relationship Between The Political Left And Globalism?

What Is The Relationship Between The Political Left And Globalism? Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, No one educated and sane likes the political left. This is not a shocking revelation. As I have been outlining for many years (but specifically in the past few years), leftists are the ONLY people in the country that consistently support draconian government policies and oppressive corporate monopoly. They are the only people that support mass censorship of opposing viewpoints through Big Tech and social media. They are the only people demanding the deplatforming and “canceling” of public personalities that dare to utter any views that are contrary to the leftist narrative. They are the only group that has a vast majority in support of the authoritarian covid lockdowns and mandates. They are the only people that aggressively call for forced vaccinations of the populace. They are the only people demanding that the unvaxxed be removed from their jobs or face potential criminal charges. They are the only people that push for the indoctrination of school children with Critical Race Theory (which is essentially racism repackaged as academic activism). And, they are also the only people that are hyper-obsessive about propagating sexual politics in public schools. These folks are exceedingly unlikable. One would think that they would remain on the very fringes of society where they can do little harm, but this has not been the case. Why? Well, it’s not because they are the majority, at least not in any traditional way. They are actually a minority on most issues with a few exceptions. However, they are highly organized, single minded (some would say hive-minded), and, they have the full support of our national power structures. Here’s the thing – A lot of conservatives wrongly assume that the political left has become some kind of autonomous force within our culture that has the power to influence massive government and corporate interests, bending these interests to their will. This is simply not true and these groups do not think for themselves. The reality is that it’s the opposite dynamic; it is government, corporate and decidedly GLOBALIST institutions which have direct influence and control over the political left. Leftists are tools of the globalist system, they are not some “grassroots” movement “sticking it to the patriarchy.” They are all slaves on the globalist plantation. Where do the leftists of the social justice cult actually derive their power from? Is it the pervasive threat of mob violence? No, it’s not. Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw an organized police presence and riot response to leftist mobs looting and burning down cities? In almost every case the police are told to stand down by city and state officials; they are told to do nothing. I have seen actual riot control used against actual peaceful protesters at events like G20. I have witnessed it personally, and it’s not pretty. When cops actually want to control and disperse a crowd, they have a lot of weapons in their arsenal to make this happen. The fact is, leftist riots continue for several days at a time exactly because they are ALLOWED to continue for several days at a time. When they do get arrested for their activities they are usually released without charge. What about the prevalence of “cancel culture” and the use of online mobs to discredit or deplatform people that leftists don’t like? This has been working less and less because the rest of the public has been made aware of the tactic through the tireless efforts of the alternative and liberty media, but for around four years the leftists had free rein to destroy the lives and careers of anyone they pleased. Just look at Actress Gina Carano or Virginia police officer William Kelly as a prime examples of cancel culture in action. The problem is, leftists would have no power to cancel anyone without the constant support of Big Tech, Hollywood, the mainstream media and international corporations. These companies don’t actually care what social justice warriors think, and they’re certainly not afraid of a tiny minority of lunatics with zero consumer leverage. Yet, they are the base of control that allows leftists to wield legitimate tools for deconstructing people’s lives. The corporate world aids the leftists because leftist goals serve corporate interests (for now). And what about government overall? I remember a few years ago I warned people that the extreme end of the leftist spectrum would become the norm for the Democratic Party by the time Trump was out of office. I noted that people like AOC and Ilhan Omar were the intended future successors of the party and that cultists like them would dictate the Democrat platform. Many people said that I was crazy and that the rise of Trump indicated that the opposite would happen. Now look at them. Biden and half of all Democratic leaders spout off about white supremacy and social justice on a regular basis. The party has become exactly what is was always intended to become – a vehicle for communist subversion. Regular democrats and moderates might not agree with this kind of extreme ideological zealotry, but most of them keep their mouths shut because they are fearful of being labeled heretics and cast out. Many say they support the cause just to avoid standing out from the herd. Being called a “bigot” or “misogynist” or “racist” only works on people that actually care and think those words still have meaning. That is to say, most social justice control mechanisms are designed to entrap other leftists, not free thinking conservatives. Leftist activists would have no political influence at all without the avid support of leaders within the Democratic party. The politicians give leftists the teeth they use to bite the ankles of their opponents. This brings us to the underlying center of all sociopolitical influence – The globalist foundations. Where do leftist groups get all the funding to launch organizations like Black Lives Matter? How do programs like social justice and Critical Race Theory find their way into college academia and all the way down to the public school system? What is the source for cultural Marxism and how did it become so pervasive in the first place? Globalist foundations like Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Tavistock Institute, George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, etc. are usually the source of the seed money and often the curriculum for most leftist movements. For example, Open Society and Ford Foundation, partnered with Borealis Philanthropy, were key in the creation of BLM, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into the movement in its early days. Ford Foundation, Open Society, Rockefeller Foundation and dozens of other globalist institutions are also deeply involved in the funding and proliferation of Critical Race Theory and gender studies programs. Once again pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into social justice groups as well as university indoctrination. By extension, globalist institutions and international corporations have invested around $50 billion total in the development of social justice programs. Corporations implement indoctrination courses for their employees, but they also spread SJW propaganda to the public subconscious through commercials and popular media. This has actually been going on a very long time by more subversive and secretive means. It was globalist institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation that funded different elements of the feminist movement and “gender studies” movements from the late 1960’s onward. We can’t forget to include the Rockefeller Foundation’s large donations to ‘The Feminist Press’ and the Ford Foundation’s programs to groom teachers for inserting social justice talking points in their curriculum. This is openly admitted in Alison R. Bernstein’s book ‘Funding The Future: Philanthropy’s Influence On America’s Higher Education’. Bernstein is the vice president of Education at the Ford Foundation and the former Associate Dean of Faculty at Princeton. It is no coincidence that almost every facet and goal of leftist activism is also listed within the goals of the UN’s Agenda 2030 initiative, which mixes some very nice sentiments about “equality” and ending poverty into a disturbing mission statement about “transforming the world” through global “inclusivity”, aggressive “sustainability” and racial and gender “equity.” If you are not familiar with these buzzwords you should be; they represent an Orwellian program of social engineering which the UN is seeking to spearhead. I have been asking this question of leftists lately and I have yet to receive any concrete or meaningful answer: If you are supposed to be the underdogs and the revolutionaries, then why is it that all of the evil money elites are on your side? Why are the all the people you say you are fighting against giving you billions of dollars and enforcing your political will? Is it possible that corporatists, globalists and you leftists are all part of the same machine? Think about it… The relationship between the agenda of globalists and the agenda of the political left is growing increasingly obvious and intertwined. The globalists want to dismantle traditional western structures, and so do leftists. Globalists want to dictate economic growth through carbon controls and climate change doom mongering, and so do leftists. Globalists promote a decidedly communistic approach to private property and economy, arguing in favor of the “Sharing Economy”, Universal Basic Income (UBI) and a world in which “we own nothing and are happy.” Leftist are embracing this concept because many of them are self serving and they prefer to take what others have worked for rather than earning it for themselves. Of course, the money elites will continue to keep their wealth and influence while the rest of us are made “equal” through the equality of poverty, but let’s not dwell on that… What I see moving forward is that the left is becoming the Cheka, or the political commissars of the globalist “Great Reset.” They have been molded for decades for this role and their purpose is to provide an element of social force and the illusion of consensus. The interesting thing about this strategy is that it seeks to exploit people who feel as if they are “oppressed” by the existing system, or they have been taught to feel oppressed. As with any Marxist takeover, Globalists use the “have-nots” as a shield while they grab more power. Every time any conservative criticizes the lies and manipulation of the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, we are accused of “racism.” And this is the big trick: We all know that BLM (founded by devout Marxists and funded by globalists) has nothing to do with civil rights or racial justice, it’s just a means to destroy western society and replace it with a dystopian nightmare. That’s what we are criticizing. Black lives are not the issue, globalism and communism are the issue. Social justice and leftists movements are a smokescreen for a bigger agenda, and the leftists love to be used. Why do they do this? It’s a mistake to assume they are merely “useful idiots.” Yes, some of them are, however, I think the people that fall into the leftist cult are people that are naturally inclined to do so. They are narcissists, psychopaths, degenerates, lazy, spoiled, and weak. They are people that are generally not capable of surviving independently and they know it, so they seek out collectivist frameworks to join and feed off of. Question: How does a mob of BLM leftists attack Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha and EVERY SINGLE PERSON he shoots or tries to shoot ends up having an extensive and violent criminal record? It is because leftist movements attract such people in droves (look are what a BLM advocate and career criminal just did in Waukesha, Wisconsin). They are not innocent in all of this. They don’t care if they are being exploited by the elites because they think it’s a trade for power and control they would not have otherwise. They are partners with globalism, and globalism breeds and encourages evil. It is important to understand this dynamic going forward because I see the argument often that the globalists are trying to “divide and conquer” America. In truth, we are ALREADY divided and have been for some time. Trying to talk with and educate moderates on the facts is one thing, but there is very little point in trying to engage in diplomacy with leftists. They have already chosen a side, and it’s not the side of reason or freedom. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 27th, 2021

US Announces Coordinated, Global Oil Release Of Up To 50 Million Barrels, As Expected

US Announces Coordinated, Global Oil Release Of Up To 50 Million Barrels, As Expected As was widely leaked yesterday, moments ago the White House announced that it will release 50 million barrels of crude from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve in concert with China, Japan, India and South Korea, the White House said in a statement, an unprecedented, coordinated attempt by three of the world’s largest oil consumers to tame prices that could prompt a backlash by OPEC+. The release, which as we noted will come in the form of an SPR Volume Exchange meaning "in the years ahead" the SPR will have to replenish the release almost certainly at much higher prices, will amount to 32 million barrels, and is in line with expectations of 30-35 million; as a reminder, 18 million has already been authorized by Congress and will be sped up. The news of a coordinated release comes just hours after Bloomberg reported that India plans to sell about 5 million barrels of oil from its strategic petroleum stockpiles as part of a coordinated move with the U.S. and other allies to pressure prices. India’s crude will be sold to refiners including those operated by Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp., which sent their stock price higher due to the implied arb. While the volume is the equivalent of less than half of India’s daily crude consumption, the release is symbolic as it shows oil consumers are willing to band together against OPEC’s rein over markets. Here is the full White House Release: President Biden Announces Release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve As Part of Ongoing Efforts to Lower Prices and Address Lack of Supply Around the World Announcement is in parallel with other major energy consuming nations, including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom Over the last 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented global economic shutdown. As the world is re-opening from a near economic standstill, countries across the globe are grappling with the challenges that arise as consumer demand for goods outpaces supply. But here in the United States, the economic recovery is stronger and faster than anywhere else in the world – according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the US is the only one of the major economies to have returned to pre-pandemic gross domestic product levels – in large part due to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which funded and facilitated a nationwide vaccination program, provided resources to schools and small businesses to keep them open in the face of COVID waves and put money in the pockets of those hit hardest by the pandemic. As a result of the strong recovery in the United States, Americans have nearly $100 more per month in disposable income in their pockets this year, even as COVID has continued to complicate the economic recovery around the world. Even so, American consumers are feeling the impact of elevated gas prices at the pump and in their home heating bills, and American businesses are, too, because oil supply has not kept up with demand as the global economy emerges from the pandemic. That’s why President Biden is using every tool available to him to work to lower prices and address the lack of supply. Today, the President is announcing that the Department of Energy will make available releases of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower prices for Americans and address the mismatch between demand exiting the pandemic and supply. The President has been working with countries across the world to address the lack of supply as the world exits the pandemic. And, as a result of President Biden’s leadership and our diplomatic efforts, this release will be taken in parallel with other major energy consuming nations including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom. This culminates weeks of consultations with countries around the world, and we are already seeing the effect of this work on oil prices. Over the last several weeks as reports of this work became public, oil prices are down nearly 10 percent. The U.S. Department of Energy will make available releases of 50 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in two ways: 32 million barrels will be an exchange over the next several months, releasing oil that will eventually return to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the years ahead. The exchange is a tool matched to today’s specific economic environment, where markets expect future oil prices to be lower than they are today, and helps provide relief to Americans immediately and bridge to that period of expected lower oil prices. The exchange also automatically provides for re-stocking of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over time to meet future needs. 18 million barrels will be an acceleration into the next several months of a sale of oil that Congress had previously authorized. The President stands ready to take additional action, if needed, and is prepared to use his full authorities working in coordination with the rest of the world to maintain adequate supply as we exit the pandemic. Even as the President is helping to lead the world in addressing oil supply imbalances, he is also focused on how consolidation in the oil and gas sector may be resulting in anti-competitive practices that keep American consumers from benefitting when oil prices fall. There is mounting evidence that declines in oil prices are not translating into lower prices at the pump. Last week, the President asked the Federal Trade Commission to examine what is going on in oil and gas markets and to consider “whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump.” Today’s announcement reflects the President’s commitment to do everything in his power to bring down costs for the American people and continue our strong economic recovery. At the same time, the Administration remains committed to the President’s ambitious clean energy goals, as reflected in the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed last week and the House-passed Build Back Better Act that together represent the largest investment in combatting climate change in American history and is a critical step towards reaching a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 and reducing our dependence on foreign fossil fuels. The irony here is that Joe is indeed doing "everything in his power to bring down costs", and yet while oil prices may dip for a few minutes after the news, it's all uphill from there as Biden is now out of price-cut catalysts, and the runway to $100+ oil in 2022 is now clear. As Bloomberg notes, the decision to collectively discharge stockpiled crude after OPEC+ countries rebuffed calls to significantly boost production marks a diplomatic win for the U.S. and a challenge to the grip that Saudi Arabia, Russia and other OPEC+ producers have on the market. The question now is whether OPEC+, which will see the release as a direct assault on its tactics, will now reverse on its previous plan of gradually boosting output, especially since the price of oil is sliding on the news, if not for much longer. In response to the news which was fully priced in (according to Goldman), oil dipped modestly with WTI and Brent Jan’22 futures kneejerking reaction lower, but the move was almost immediately pared. At last check, WTI traded around $75.30/bbl and Brent was at $79.11. The bigger problem for Biden is that all available price-cut catalysts have now been used, and the only way is up. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/23/2021 - 07:24.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 23rd, 2021

Texas Party Switcher Is Latest Ominous Sign For Democrats

Texas Party Switcher Is Latest Ominous Sign For Democrats Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClearPolitics.com, Ryan Guillen had been a Democratic member of the Texas legislature, representing a sprawling district south of San Antonio, for nearly two decades. This week he jumped ship for the Republican Party, blaming Democrats for leaving him, not the other way around. Normally such a move would make local and state news, but certainly not prime-time national coverage. Yet, on Wednesday night, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham gleefully cited the defection as further proof that “truly smart” Democrats are abandoning a sinking ship. While Guillen is a state lawmaker whose switch won’t impact which party holds power in Washington, there’s one sign that this may not be an isolated example: At least nine congressional House Democrats have  announced they are not seeking reelection next year. More are expected to follow. Highlighting the shifting political terrain in South Texas isn’t just a partisan exercise. The New York Times’ Tom Edsall this week cited evidence that President Biden’s immigration record and Democrats’ progressive agenda is hurting them with traditional-base voters, especially Hispanics in Texas border counties. “Democrats shouldn’t panic,” Edsall wrote. “They should go into shock.” Explaining his switch to the GOP, Guillen provided more fodder for veteran campaign consultant James Carville and others warning Democrats to rein in their left wing. The 44-year-old anti-abortion and pro-gun lawmaker cited the defund-the-police push and the climate change movement, which he said is “destroying” the Lone Star state’s oil and gas industry, along with the “chaos at the border.” “Friends, something is happening in South Texas, and many of us are waking up to the fact that the values of those in Washington, D.C., are not our values, not the values of most Texans,” he said at a press conference Monday with Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan, both Republicans. Democrats quickly pointed out that Guillen made the switch only after the GOP-led redistricting process turned his already Republican-leaning district scarlet. Texas is the only state to gain two congressional seats after the 2020 census, and Republicans control the state legislature and governor’s mansion, and thus the redistricting process.   Yet Guillen wasn’t exaggerating when he said there’s a significant political sea change taking place in South Texas. His move was the latest sign of a rightward shift in the Rio Grande region in recent years. Donald Trump won Guillen’s district by 13 percentage points in 2020; just four years earlier, Hillary Clinton carried it by the same margin. The voters still chose Guillen by 17 points last year, but the new map could have threatened such margins for him in the future. The newly formed district voted for Trump by 25 points. Republicans are heavily targeting three South Texas congressional seats held by Democrats and are encouraged by Guillen’s switch and other signs of GOP inroads in traditionally more liberal areas of the state. That trio of districts voted for Joe Biden by just two to four percentage points in 2020, down from the 17-to-22-point margins Clinton garnered in 2016. The first signs of Democratic vulnerability in districts along the U.S.-Mexico border came earlier this year when Rep. Filemon Vela, who represents Texas’ 34th Congressional District, announced his retirement. Then, in June, the traditionally Democratic border city of McAllen elected a Republican mayor in Javier Villalobos, a former Hidalgo County GOP chairman. (The county had gone for Biden by 17 percentage points over Trump.) Another warning for Democrats came a few weeks ago when Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez announced he would run in the adjacent 34th district because he no longer felt confident about holding onto Texas’ 15th. Gonzalez won the 15th by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016 but by just 2.9 points last year. Gonzalez publicly claimed he didn’t have much of a choice after Republicans made his district redder, but the Texas Tribune reported the decision was more deliberate than Gonzalez let on. A Democratic amendment to the redistricting process moved his home into the 34th district. In early November, Republicans also picked up an additional Democratic-friendly state House seat in San Antonio, an area where Biden won comfortably but still underperformed expectations last year. After Guillen’s jump to the GOP this week, liberal groups assailed aggressive GOP redistricting tactics as a prime motivating factor. Common Cause, a liberal nonprofit that advocates for easier voting access, accused Texas Republicans of “whitewashing” state legislative and congressional districts to dilute the power of minority voters. Anthony Gutierrez, who heads Common Cause’s Texas office, said Republicans revealed the new maps just three days before a scheduled vote on them, “providing almost no time for people to assess the maps or go talk to impacted communities.” Democrats are now fighting the redrawn districts in court. Eric Holder, who served as attorney general in the Obama administration, now chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The committee filed a suit arguing the new congressional districts lines violate Voting Rights Act protections for minority populations and are gerrymandered to give Republicans an advantage. It’s a familiar refrain. In most states, the power to create new congressional maps lies with the state legislature after the decennial U.S. Census, and the majority party in power often attempts to redraw them to benefit their members. But election experts counter that Democrats are trying offset Republican redistricting gains in Texas and Florida in areas where they control the state legislatures, such as California, New York and Illinois. In these states and in most areas across the country, heavily Democratic urban areas are growing while rural GOP areas are losing population. The stakes this year are particularly high with Republicans only needing to gain five seats in 2022 to win control of the House. Republicans are hoping the path to regaining the majority runs through South Texas and they point to Guillen’s decision to switch parties as the latest bad omen for Democrats. “Texas Democrats are retiring or becoming Republicans because they know they’re doomed in in 2022,” said Torunn Sinclair, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee didn’t respond to a request for comment. It’s not surprising that Biden’s plummeting poll numbers are worse in Texas than they are nationally. A recent University of Texas and Texas Tribune survey, released Nov. 8, found only 35% of Texans approve of the way Biden is handling his job while 55% of voters disapprove. The survey showed that Texas voters, more than a third of whom are Hispanic, rank Biden the lowest on his handling of immigration and border security with only 22% of respondents saying they approve of his record on that issue and 63% saying they disapprove. Democrats are hoping to bolster Biden’s sinking popularity by pushing through a massive $1.85 trillion climate and social spending bill known as Build Back Better. Last month, Biden warned Democrats that their “House and Senate majorities and my presidency” will be determined “by what happens” to the latest version of the measure. “I don’t think it’s hyperbole,” he said, referring to polls indicating many of the individual provisions are popular with voters. The legislation, which White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has described as “twice as big in real dollars as the New Deal,” would provide free preschool for all children, expand the child tax credit and bolster liberals’ green agenda with numerous consumer rebates and tax credits for clean energy investments. To help pay for the spending package, Democrats are proposing to increase taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations, including new taxes on oil and gas producers. It’s a  controversial move in Texas, even among some Democrats. At least 620,000 jobs are connected to the oil and gas industry across the state, and oil production in South Texas has helped transform the relatively poor region into a boom area over the past decade. The plan would penalize oil and gas companies for leaks of methane from wellheads, pipelines, storage and other facilities to the tune of $1 billion to $10 billion annually. Proponents say the tax would serve as incentive for companies to stop leaks and avoid wasting methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Vela and Gonzalez, who founded the House Oil and Gas Caucus, as well as Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in late September asking them not to include the methane tax. Another controversial piece of the House version of the bill would allow illegal immigrants to obtain child tax credits. The final House version of the Build Back Better bill, which the House could vote on as soon as Friday, still includes these two provisions. Despite this, Gonzalez and Cuellar have signaled they will vote in favor of it, a point Republicans will inevitably hammer home in ads to voters for months to come. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/19/2021 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 20th, 2021

New Jersey has cracked down on 5 crypto sites for running fraudulent investment schemes

All platforms, according to authorities, used tactics common in investment scams to lure investors into fraudulent crypto-investment schemes. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo New Jersey has cracked down on five crypto sites for running fraudulent investment schemes. The state has directed them to stop operating in the state, according to a statement. Cease and desist orders were issued to Bulk Investments, Forte Trade, Dilna Investments d/b/a Fidelity Revenue, RealBitcore Mining, and FilefxOption. Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell. New Jersey has cracked down on five crypto sites for running fraudulent investment schemes and has directed them to stop operating in the state, according to a statement released by the New Jersey Attorney General and the New Jersey Bureau of Securities.Five summary cease and desist orders were issued to Bulk Investments, Forte Trade, Dilna Investments (doing business as Fidelity Revenue), RealBitcore Mining, and FilefxOption.All platforms, according to authorities, "used a variety of tactics common in investment scams to lure investors into fraudulent cryptocurrency-investment schemes." This included issuing vague promises of profit, bogus client endorsements, limited and misleading disclosures, and failure to identify the company's principals.None of the entities was registered with the Bureau to offer or sell securities or act as a broker-dealer in New Jersey, the statement said.The order cited three New Jersey investors who were swindled out of a cumulative $90,000.Collectively, the fraud perpetrated by the websites, according to the statement, include: Omitting material facts to potential investorsListing fake addresses for their places of businessClaiming to be "registered, licensed, insured, or authorizedPosting fabricated testimonials from previous clients"Online scammers are exploiting the public's interest in cryptocurrency investment opportunities," said Acting Attorney General Bruck in a statement. "But we're fighting back."Cryptocurrencies have been in a tense period as global regulators think on how best to increase oversight of the $2.6 billion industry.Multiple efforts to rein in various products have been imposed as the market capitalization of digital assets continues to balloon.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 29th, 2021

Top Border Official Blasts Psaki - Says Admin Approved "Twirling" Reins To Keep Migrants Away From Horses

Top Border Official Blasts Psaki - Says Admin Approved 'Twirling' Reins To Keep Migrants Away From Horses A top Border Patrol official slammed the Biden administration over their kneejerk reaction to reports that border patrol agents in Del Rio, Texas have been "whipping" Haitian migrants who materialized roughly 1,800 miles from home across the Gulf of Mexico, where they've gathered in large numbers at the southern US border in recent days. In two separate interviews, Border Patrol agent and head of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd singled out White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for condemning the agents' conduct as "horrible to watch," and something "they should never be able to do again," accusing Psaki of "perpetuating the narrative that police are bad." "There are very few things that will boil my blood as bad as the White House directly coming out and condemning an action before they know what happened," Judd told Just the News. "Jen Psaki came out yesterday, and she condemned these actions, when in reality, it is a legitimate law enforcement action. This was meant to protect the illegal aliens." Judd explained agents are trained for crowd control by the Homeland Security Department to "twirl the reins" if humans start approaching their horses to keep them away from getting injured, and the reins are never used to strike or harm people. "We have to keep those individuals away from the horses," he explained. "If they get too close to the horses, the horses could step on them and they could break bones. They could kick them. They can get kicked in the head. It could cause death. -JTN "Nobody was hit by those reins; they are not whips. The reins are used to control the horses. And so the reins will be twirled to keep people away from the horses for their protection," Judd added, comparing Psaki's comments and corresponding coverage by the MSM to deceptive tactics used by liberal activists who want to defund the police.  "Of course, this is exactly how the defund police movement works," said Judd. "You take photos, you take a 15-second video of something that happened over a period of 10 minutes. And you take those very small clips, and you blow them up and say, 'Well, look what's happening.' When in reality it was a law enforcement movement that agents are trained to use the reins to keep people away, not hit people with those reins." According to Judd, twirling of the reigns is standard practice. "This is a training module that they set up, that they go through and they approve, and even this administration, every single administration, when they come in, they will look at all training that is being given, and they will decide whether the way they want to continue on with training," he said, adding "And this administration even decided that they would continue on with the training of using the reins, to keep people away from the horses for their own protection." Judd told the Epoch Times that the White House is perpetuating a false narrative. Misinformation Judd said agents on horseback in the area have not been rounding up Haitian refugees with whips after they were accused of doing so by multiple media outlets and officials. On Monday, Sawyer Hackett, executive director of People First Future, a political action committee set up by Democrat Julián Castro, went viral on Twitter when he shared photos of border patrol agents on horseback as they held their “whips” while Haitian refugees stood near them on foot. Hackett wrote on Twitter, “This is unfathomable cruelty towards people fleeing disaster and political ruin. The administration must stop this.” He also shared video footage showing border agents on horseback attempting to prevent migrants from wading back and forth across a river. The post was quickly shared over 27,000 times, including by members of Congress Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Senator Jeff Merkley. A report from the El Paso Times regarding the situation in Del Rio also went viral. An exert from it claims a border agent “swung his whip menacingly” at Haitian men who were trying to cross the river again after buying food and water in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. "That’s your ‘defund the police’ movement right there," Judd said of the video. "They only show a short segment of a video. The horse patrol agents under the administration are trained to ensure the safety of the migrants, to keep them away from the horses, because the horses can harm people—they can inadvertently step on them, they can rear up, they can kick them. And so agents have to keep the migrants away from the horses for their own protection. And so they will use the reins, to twirl the reins, so that they will stay away from the horses. But they do not use those reins to lash out, to try to strike people. Those agents did not use those reins in any way, shape, or form to try to strike anybody." More via The Epoch Times: Judd added that the horses are also used as a “deterrent technique” to prevent illegal immigrants from coming into the United States. The claims of whipping soon reached the White House, with press secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters during a briefing Monday, that she had seen some of the footage but didn’t yet have all the context. “I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” Psaki said. “But I don’t have additional details.” When asked if the agents who were accused of whipping the Haitian immigrants should be fired, Psaki responded, “And, certainly—I don’t have additional context.  I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.” Judd says Psaki ‘s comments were “horrific” and only serve to perpetuate the narrative that law enforcement is bad. “And that just feeds into the larger, very liberal, narrative of defund the police,” he said. The head of the National Border Patrol Council said his agents also feel abandoned by the administration, noting that the Haitian camp has turned into a “warzone refugee camp” and pointing out a key difference between former President Donald Trump’s administration and the current Biden administration. “They [border patrol agents] have been abandoned by the administration. I mean, I get that all the time. My agents are constantly reaching out to me asking, ‘Why isn’t this administration standing up and doing something to secure the border?’ ‘Why is this administration allowing cartels to have free rein of the border?’ ‘Why is this administration [doing nothing] when they said that they were going to have humane immigration practices? I don’t know,” Judd said. “You tell me, does this look like it’s humane right here?” he asked standing in front of the Haitian camp. “This looks like a warzone refugee camp. That’s what this looks like. And if anybody says that this is humane, I would love for them to come and explain to me how this, right here, is humane. But this is the Biden administration. This never happened with the Trump administration.” Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 12:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 22nd, 2021

One Bank Asks "Could A Central Bank Somewhere Be Buying Crypto Assets?"

One Bank Asks "Could A Central Bank Somewhere Be Buying Crypto Assets?" By Benjamin Picton of Rabobank We're going to build a (tariff) wall... Crude oil prices spiked on Friday evening following news that OPEC+ and Russia will extend production cuts through to June of this year. Brent closed 2% higher at $83.55/bbl, which means that prices have now risen by more than $6/bbl since the start of the year. Gold also caught a bid on Friday night to close the week at $2,082/ounce. This followed weaker than expected ISM survey data out on the United States that saw 2-year yields fall 9bps to 4.53% and the S&P500 hit fresh all-time-highs. Meanwhile, the Bitcoin surge continues apace after prices for ‘digital gold’ finished the week slightly above $62,500. Judging from the price action last week, the everything rally remains resilient to the effects of monetary tightening. Have we sprung a monetary leak somewhere that is providing mysterious liquidity into markets? Or is this all just a huge lag effect as the Covid-era torrents of easy money continue to wash through the economy and the US deficit remains close to 6.5% of GDP? Whatever the case, some of the moves are very interesting. News has emerged of a crypto whale dubbed ‘Mr 100’ who has been quietly accumulating a $3.1bn stash of Bitcoin. Decrypt.co reports that the mysterious whale is unlikely to be US-domiciled, and unlikely to be one of the new Bitcoin ETF operators since those have already disclosed their blockchain addresses. Could a central bank somewhere be buying crypto assets? There is plenty on the calendar this week for markets to digest, but of particular interest is the National Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The meeting begins on Tuesday and will include an updated growth target for the Chinese economy. Last year’s ‘modest’ 5% target was exceeded by two-tenths of a percentage point after helpful base effects and data revisions helped the economy over the line. The speculation is that the CCP will again set 5% as the official goal, although our own China watcher, Teeuwe Mevissen, expects growth of just 4.6% in the Middle Kingdom this year. In the United States we have the non-farm payrolls report at the end of the week, but on a longer view the possibility of universal tariffs will have much more structural bearing on who produces  what and where, and for how much, and to be sold to who. This Daily last week canvased the possibility of outright bans on Chinese auto imports into the United States as the Biden White House attempts to outbid Donald Trump on America First protectionism. Trump’s threats of 10% universal tariffs, with tariffs of 60% or more on Chinese goods, would be certainly be a big structural change that, in our view, could reignite inflation. It also (by design) poses risks to the Chinese growth model. With real-estate and infrastructure investment already reeling from heavy debt loads, a loss of confidence and Xi Xinping’s Common Prosperity initiatives to rein-in speculation on house prices, the China model will be even more reliant on production and exports. It’s worth asking the question whether that can still work in a world where the world’s biggest market is potentially slapping a 60% tax on your exports. Of course, Chinese goods could flow into other markets like Europe, but if the Trump tariffs are enacted it would take all of 5 minutes before European leaders follow suit in an effort to protect their own sputtering industry from Chinese competition. So where does this leave China? The worst case would be massive oversupply, deflation and economic depression as China fails to escape the Middle Income Trap. The alternative might be economic reorganization away from a production-led economy toward a more balanced growth model that emphasises internal consumption. Such a reorganization would also start to address one of the major (but not the only) impediment to the adoption of CNY as a reserve currency: China’s enormous trade surplus, but it would stand at odds with Xi Xinping thought that sees consumerism as decadent and production as virtuous. That’s a vicious circle to square, but if it is to ever happen, we should expect to see early signs this week. This week will be important for other reasons. We are now one week out from the date at which the Fed will cease issuing new loans under the BTFP program. Regular readers will remember that this was the liquidity facility put in place during the mini banking crisis last year. Under the terms of the program, the Fed accepts collateral from the banking system while paying out the par value (!) of the securities in cash. Questions remain over what will happen to US regional banks with a large share of commercial real estate loans on the balance sheet (many due for refinance shortly!) once the banking system can no longer pretend that those loans are not underwater. It may be the case that the Fed had hoped that they would be cutting rates by now and the capitalisation rates on commercial real estate would look less bad as a result. Unfortunately, last week’s PCE data did little too further the case for imminent cuts. PCE rose by 0.3% in January, but if you move the decimal a couple of places it becomes obvious how close we came to a 0.4% reading instead. One Swallow does not make a summer, but the January PCE result marks a substantial acceleration compared to December, November and October. That’s despite being helped by lower fuel prices that are unlikely to be replicated in February. The +0.4% core reading was the highest since January of last year, and the +0.6% services ex housing and energy reading was the highest since December of 2021. In Europe last week the inflation story was similar. Eurozone preliminary CPI for February rose at the fastest pace since April last year. It was up 0.6% m-o-m, which translates to a 2.6% y-o-y figure. That was a little below the 2.8% figure for January but higher than the consensus estimate of 2.5%. The core reading printed at 3.1% versus an analyst consensus of 2.9%. So the direction is right, but progress is slow, and as our Head of Macro Research, Elwin de Groot, pointed out in a piece last week, the Red Sea shipping disruptions could pose a substantial upside risk to Eurozone price pressures. So, for the moment at least we have encountered a bump in the road back to low and stable inflation. Central banks ought to be cognizant of the risks in cutting rates while loads of asset classes are already making new highs every other day, and the spectre of geopolitics looms as a potential spoiler for markets that think only in terms of free-flowing trade and capital. In a world of rapid change, the ability to think outside accepted paradigms is becoming more and more important. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/04/2024 - 17:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge7 hr. 10 min. ago

20 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World

In this article, we will take a look at 20 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World. You can skip our detailed analysis and go directly to the 5 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World. Humans are complex beings, gifted with a multitude of qualities– some innate, others acquired through exposure. Precisely […] In this article, we will take a look at 20 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World. You can skip our detailed analysis and go directly to the 5 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World. Humans are complex beings, gifted with a multitude of qualities– some innate, others acquired through exposure. Precisely pinpointing a metric to measure their brilliance is a daunting task. The world is filled with awe-inspiring scientists who have shaped and reshaped our understanding of Earth, the cosmos and their multifarious dynamics, researchers who have brought forth astounding findings, politicians who have redrawn boundaries between countries and etched their mark in history, as well as artists and musicians who have brought immense pleasure to the world. The list of diverse accomplishments that humans can possess is endless. They are all stars, shining brilliantly in their respective domains. Preparing Generations of Brilliance The students– future pillars of all nations– are unique individuals, each evolving along their path of knowledge. Over the years, significant emphasis has been placed on developing curricula that focus on critical thinking tools, participatory learning, and independent problem-solving techniques. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, in particular, has been hailed as the harbinger of future learning. Major countries like the US and Europe have predominantly incorporated it into their educational systems. However, with time, Asian countries such as China, India, South Korea, and Japan have also embraced this system. By 2020, China had emerged as the leading producer of STEM graduates, with 3.57 million, followed by India with 2.55 million and the US with 820,000 graduates. STEM education is gaining even greater relevance in our technologically oriented world. The onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global proliferation of educational apps have fostered an environment conducive to digital education. From 300,000 in 2011, the number of massive open online course learners has surged to 220 million in 2021. Additionally, numerous digital startups have emerged on the online education map, driven by the rise in US venture funding for Education Technology (EdTech). Notable companies, such as Coursera, Inc. (NYSE: COUR), have played a pivotal role in this transformative landscape. Coursera, Inc. (NYSE: COUR) is an online platform that collaborates with over 300 universities and organizations, including prestigious institutions like Stanford, Duke, UC Berkeley, Dartmouth, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), and IBM (NYSE:IBM). The platform provides online courses, certifications, and degrees across various subjects. Aligning with the contemporary needs, Coursera, Inc. (NYSE: COUR) CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda, explains how the company can assist students and professionals through adaptive and personalized learning experiences. Research and Innovation Producing Brilliant Students While investing in strong schools and effective teaching tactics is crucial at the foundational level, the fast-paced, technologically oriented world demands an even greater emphasis on continuous research and upgrading. In the contemporary era, countries allocate millions to research to ensure rapid and up-to-date progress. The United States has emerged as the country with the highest spending on academic Research and Development (R&D). According to 2020 OECD data, the U.S. invested $81 billion in this sector, followed by Germany with $28 billion, the United Kingdom and Japan each with $20 billion, and France with $18 billion. The 27 European Union countries, including Germany and France, collectively spent $100 billion in the year 2020. American universities, like John Hopkins, University of California, San Francisco, and University of Pennsylvania, are spearheading the growth in the R&D sector. In 2022, R&D spending by academic institutions in the country reached $97.8 billion, marking an $8 billion increase from 2021. Thus, it is no wonder that the world’s leading technologically innovative companies, such as Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), are situated in the U.S. Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META), a technology pioneer for two decades, stands as one of the most widely used social media platforms globally. Originating from the mind of a brilliant psychology student at Harvard, the company swiftly captured the world’s attention and continues to do so. With innovation as the cornerstone of their success, Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META) recently entered into a collaboration with IBM (NYSE:IBM). Together, they have formed an industry group comprising more than 40 companies and organizations, aimed at establishing open-source artificial intelligence work. This initiative is designed to facilitate technology sharing and reduce associated risks. 20 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World Methodology To compile our list of 20 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World, we have used the H-Index of the papers published in all the subject areas from the period of 1996-2022. H-Index is a robust measure of scholarly impact. We present our list in ascending order of H-Index. If you want to delve into the details of what H-index is, please refer to the methodology section in our piece on 15 Countries That Produce the Best Engineers in the World. We also use the OECD’s “What Students Learn Matters: Towards a 21st Century Curriculum”, 2020 report to quote data for percentage of lower secondary school teacher who encourage use of critical thinking and problem solving in their students as well as the percentage of curriculum that embeds critical thinking and problem solving. By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that uses a consensus approach to identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The website tracks the movement of corporate insiders and hedge funds. Our top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 stock index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). So, if you are looking for the best stock picks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders. Let us now take a look at our list for 20 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World.  20. Finland H Index: 793 Finland is renowned for having one of the best and most challenging education systems globally. While the early school years are relatively relaxed, the later years become progressively demanding, urging students to embrace a more application-oriented approach. Consequently, students in Finland excel in honing their acuity and thriving in creative endeavors. In 2022 alone, the country recorded 1,361 patent applications, and it boasts a high citation impact per paper, underscoring the quality of education that produces exceptionally brilliant students. 19. India H Index: 795 India has secured a prominent position in the rankings among 12 Asian countries with the best education systems, boasting 45 high-ranking universities that offer students crucial platforms for growth. Notably, 15 Indian universities have earned spots in the top 1000 Academic Ranking of World Universities for 2023.  As one of the most promising innovators on the global stage, the Indian student body is evidently making strides in the creative realm, providing tangible proof of their academic brilliance. 18. Austria H Index: 822 As a part of the highly advanced European region, Austria boasts a well-developed public education system, securing the 14th position in the global ranking of the best education systems. According to the OECD report on the 21st-century curriculum, 35% of lower secondary teachers in Austria encourage students to solve problems based on their intuition, while an impressive 84% express confidence in their ability to greatly assist students in developing critical thinking skills. This approach is poised to nurture and produce brilliant students. 17. South Korea H Index: 863 South Korea places significant emphasis on its education system, known for its rigor and competitiveness. Students in South Korea are exceptionally hardworking and operate within a culture of academic excellence. The OECD 2030 Curriculum Content Mapping exercise reveals that the country has integrated critical thinking and problem-solving skills into its future curriculum at an impressive rate of 83% each. These aspects are incorporated across all areas of study, including science, humanities, and the arts. Furthermore, 47% of lower secondary school teachers in South Korea frequently assign tasks that require students to engage in critical thinking. 16. Israel H Index: 865 Israel is renowned for contributing to some of the world’s best education systems, consistently producing brilliant students. The country is a hub of innovation, evident in the 1,527 patent applications filed in 2022. A significant majority of Israel’s lower secondary school teachers, standing at 79%, believe in their ability to nurture critical thinking skills in their students. Looking ahead to their 2030 curricular agenda, Israel aims to further emphasize critical thinking (85%) and problem-solving (83%) as integral components. 15. Denmark H Index: 949 Denmark’s education system is not only recognized as one of the toughest but also stands as one of the best globally. The emphasis is placed on encouraging students to cultivate an inquisitive mind and learn through practical and collaborative efforts. To ensure this, Denmark is actively engaged in teacher training, recognizing its pivotal role in the educational process. The country’s approach is holistic, not solely focused on science or academic subjects, but also dedicated to honing students’ practical skills and cultural knowledge. As a result, Denmark boasts a high H Index rank and consistently produces some of the most brilliant students in the world. 14. Belgium H Index: 995 Belgium’s education system is rigorous, emphasizing critical and innovative thinking, taking students on a comprehensive educational journey. It stands as one of the best education systems globally, contributing to the country producing some of the most brilliant students worldwide. Belgium is also renowned for its innovations, and researchers in the country have demonstrated a high level of productivity impact. 13. Sweden H Index: 1,087 With a rigorous coursework and a focus on independent analysis, Sweden guides its student body through a demanding educational journey. Education is compulsory for children from the age of six to fifteen. A significant portion of lower secondary teachers, 49%, actively encourages critical thinking, while 45% emphasize problem-solving skills, frequently prompting students to engage in these practices. Unsurprisingly, Sweden’s success in nurturing innovation is evident in its thriving start-up scene. In 2022 alone, the country recorded 1,798 patent applications, a testament to the embedded brilliance of graduates continually entering the global market. 12. Spain H Index: 1,127 Ranking high on the H index, Spain showcases the consistent brilliance of its students worldwide. The country’s education system places significant emphasis on actively engaging students in critical thinking and problem-solving, which contributes to this notable achievement. Lower secondary school teachers frequently encourage independent problem-solving, with 41% of them prompting students to find solutions autonomously. Moreover, 65% of teachers ensure that children regularly practice critical thinking, underscoring the commitment to nurturing these essential skills. 11. China H Index: 1,210 China’s education system is widely regarded as one of the best not only within the context of Asian countries but also on a global scale. The commitment to continual improvement is evident through their 2030 curriculum agenda. Emphasizing critical thinking as a key component of student learning across all subjects, China allocates a significant proportion, 61%, to this aspect in their curriculum. Furthermore, there is a strong emphasis on cultivating high problem-solving capacities (72%) within various subjects. The country’s remarkable achievement in filing 1,464,605 patent applications in 2022 serves as evidence of the brilliant students produced by their education system. 10. Switzerland H Index: 1,212 As one of the most developed countries globally, Switzerland boasts one of the best education systems. The nation prioritizes the cultivation of critical thinking skills in students, offering the opportunity to pursue both academic and vocational studies following an intensive 11 years of compulsory education, which includes learning languages and foundational subjects. Additionally, the country demonstrates a commitment to excellence through generous investments in research and development. This holistic approach contributes to the overall production of brilliant students, as evidenced by the high H index, reflecting the productivity and impact of their academic work. 9. Japan H Index: 1,236 Japan has carved a notable reputation in the field of education, excelling both regionally and globally. Renowned for possessing one of the best and toughest educational systems, the country subject students to rigorous academic training and innovative development. A testament to their commitment to holistic education can be seen by their focus on problem-solving, allocating a significant 83% emphasis to this crucial skill in their curriculum. 8. Italy H Index: 1,255 Developing one of the world’s best education systems, Italy has earned recognition as a country with some of the most brilliant students globally. Not only does Italy foster innovative abilities in its young generation– ranking among the most innovative countries worldwide–but their contributions to the literary world are also highly impactful, as evidenced by their impressive H index ranking. 7. Australia H Index: 1,276 Boasting one of the world’s best education systems, Australia is equipping its students with a penchant for profound and critical thinking, coupled with early exposure to independent problem-solving. This approach results in the country producing researchers who contribute at a very high level of impact and productivity. It is for this reason that Australia is rightfully recognized as one of the countries with the most brilliant students in the world. 6. Netherlands H Index: 1,284 The education system in the Netherlands revolves around fostering in-depth and profound thinking, coupled with a focus on practical learning. As one of the most innovative countries, the Netherlands consistently produces meaningful and high-quality research work, a testament to the brilliance of the students within this country. Click to continue reading and see our 5 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World. Suggested Articles: 13 Highest Paying Countries for Marine Biologists 11 Highest Paying Countries for Aerospace Engineers 30 Countries With Extreme Poverty Disclosure: None. 20 Countries with Most Brilliant Students in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkey10 hr. 53 min. ago

"We Remain Frustrated": Investors Raise Buyout Bid For Macy"s After Board"s "Delay Tactics"

"We Remain Frustrated": Investors Raise Buyout Bid For Macy's After Board's "Delay Tactics" On Sunday, Arkhouse Management Co. and Brigade Capital Management raised their all-cash bid to purchase Macy's at $24 per share, a 33% premium versus Friday's closing price of $18.01. This comes a little more than a month after the retailer rejected a go-private bid from the group of investors.  Arkhouse and Brigade disclosed Fortress Investment Group LLC and One Investment Management US as equity partners in the deal to acquire Macy's.  Arkhouse highlighted how they had revised the deal higher to entice Macy's executives:  A 51.3% premium to Macy's unaffected share price on Nov. 30, 2023, the day prior to Arkhouse and Brigade submitting their original proposal on Dec. 1, 2023; A 33.3% premium to where the Company's shares closed on March 1, 2024; and An increase of 14.3% from Arkhouse and Brigade's previous offer of $21.00 per share that was submitted to the Company on Dec. 1, 2023. Gavriel Kahane and Jonathon Blackwell of Arkhouse expressed their frustrations with Macy's Board: "We remain frustrated by the delay tactics adopted by Macy's Board of Directors (the "Board") and its continued refusal to engage with our credible buyer group. Nonetheless, we are steadfast in our commitment to execute this transaction. In recent months, Macy's has introduced two restructurings and a dividend hike. The stock price selloff following these announcements is a strong indication of shareholder concern about maintaining the status quo. We continue to offer the Company an attractive alternative solution through a sale of the Company at a substantial premium. This would provide Macy's stockholders with significant value and immediate liquidity. While the restructuring plan Macy's unveiled last week failed to inspire investors, the fourth quarter earnings and year-end results have given us further confidence in the long-term prospects of the Company if redirected as a private company. After coordinating with our financing sources, we have increased our offer to $24.00 per share in cash. We remain open to increasing the purchase price further subject to the customary due diligence. The notion that the plan we are proposing is not actionable is simply not true. We have tried repeatedly to address the concerns raised by the Company. We clarified the 50% equity contribution we laid out three months ago and disclosed our partnership with two highly regarded investors – Fortress and OneIM. With the help of our advisors, we have identified large global institutional financing sources for each debt component of the transaction with strong interest in finalizing commitments during a customary diligence process. These sources represent 100% of the capital required to buy the shares in Macy's we do not already own at our proposed price of $24.00 per share in cash. We have struggled to understand what reservations the Board might have at this point and urge the Company to engage with us in good faith with the goal of reaching a transaction that would unlock significant value for all stockholders. We sincerely hope the members of the Board are not so entrenched in their views about the future direction of the Company that they would ignore their fiduciary duties to explore a potential transaction with a credible buyer. We remain ready to proceed expeditiously with our due diligence toward a mutually agreeable transaction to acquire Macy's at a substantial premium in cash." Shares of Macy's jumped more than 17% in premarket trading in New York on the revised deal. Two weeks ago, Arkhouse nominated nine people for Macy's board of directors, igniting a proxy battle after the department store rejected a go-private bid in mid-January. Last week, Macy's announced "a bold new chapter" in the department store's future, pivoting from catering to low-tier consumers to more affluent ones. In doing so, it will close 150 stores over the next few years while expanding Bloomingdale's and Bluemercury stores. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/04/2024 - 14:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt11 hr. 9 min. ago

Time To "Deep-Six" The Democrats" Brand Of Democracy

Time To 'Deep-Six' The Democrats' Brand Of Democracy Authored by Albin Sadar via American Greatness, The Democrats warn us almost daily that re-electing Donald Trump in 2024 will spell the end of democracy. But, technically, do we even live in a country whose constitution established us as a “democracy?” When Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was greeted by a woman who asked him point-blank, “Well, doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Mr. Franklin’s terse response: “A republic, madam—if you can keep it.” It is significant that Mr. Franklin did not say that the form of government that the Founders created was a democracy. We are, in fact, as most of us know (or should certainly know), a constitutional republic. We are not a country where 51% of citizens can outvote the other 49%, then tell them what they can and cannot do. We are a representative government with checks and balances built in as guaranteed safeguards against a majority of strong-willed individuals lording it over the meek, timid, and disadvantaged. Both majority and minority have a true say in how every citizen is governed. The First Amendment guaranteeing free speech has always been key if we hope to “keep the republic.” Once that is co-opted—then controlled and censored—an unsuspecting public will be easily swayed into thinking in line with whatever insures that an elite few can gain and maintain power. Manipulating the masses is the goal. Election season is always ripe for the misuse of our First Amendment. If the leftist elites who currently control the many facets of our culture—the press, academia, entertainment, business, and, yes, even many religious institutions—continue unabated, the noble idea and ideals upon which America was established will soon become a regrettable lost cause of the past. Obviously, two powerful forces remain in the battle to control America through the presidency in this year’s election. On one side, the Democrats with their twisted definition of America as a democracy, aided by a Deep State, far-left, globalist, RINO, and woke contingency; on the other, all those pushing back, whether part of the America First and MAGA crowd or the myriad other freedom-loving citizens of all stripes awake to the evil that has accelerated over these past three years. Since the 2020 presidential contest, which was declared by the powers that be to be “the most secure election in American history,” there is a majority of citizens who have serious doubts about the validity of the result. Another percentage naively believe that that sort of third-world, election-stealing shenanigans could never happen here. And yet another, smaller group knows for a fact that the election was not secure in the least because they themselves were flat out involved in rigging and stealing it. On November 3rd through 6th of 2020, a group of Democrat operatives blatantly and quite effectively ended the concept of free and fair elections, thus negating one of the keystones of self-rule by We the People. Building upon that 2020 “win,” Democrats and their tyrannical gang have since targeted anyone who stands in the way of their fundamental transformation of this country, President Trump chief among their adversaries. As Trump so often reminds us, the left is not after him; they are after independent, free-thinking, non-compliant Americans. He’s just standing in their way. And stand he has. After everything the left has manufactured to take Trump out—every sort of imagined or concocted crime—Trump still stands. And, undeterred, he fights back. He refuses to simply fade away. Democrats and their machine on the left roll out their revenge and retribution daily on Trump because he had the audacity to run for president in the first place. Then to win. Then to win a second time. From the primary trail over the past several months, Trump has also highlighted that, besides honest elections, another crucial facet necessary for a country to exist as a sovereign nation is a secure border. We can all clearly see what the Biden administration has allowed to transpire at the southern border. Millions of illegal aliens have simply strolled across our wide open borders and are now who-knows-where throughout our country. Does this indicate a government that is concerned about sovereignty or security in any way, shape, or form? Other traits indicative of the Democrats’ brand of democracy include publicly labeling political adversaries as “domestic terrorists;” using excessive force and exaggerating charges when arresting dissenters; imprisoning protestors, such as those involved on January 6, without charges and due process; championing mob violence and looting from the progressive far left; and so many additional tactics that might more readily apply to fascism than democracy. All these destructive features touted by the Biden administration help to reveal the democracy to which the Democrats refer. And we need to squelch it sooner rather than later. November 5th would be just in the nick of time. *  *  * Albin Sadar is author of Obvious: Seeing the Evil That’s in Plain Sight and Doing Something About It, as well as the children’s book collection Hamster Holmes: Box of Mysteries. Albin was formerly the producer of “The Eric Metaxas Show.” Tyler Durden Mon, 03/04/2024 - 13:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt14 hr. 22 min. ago