Uncategorized

Luongo: Why War Bonds Are Returning In Europe

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, ‘n Guns blog,After a mostly peaceful Security Conference in Munich over the weekend, Estonian Prime Minister Katja Kallas let the real purpose of all the recent hysteria over Ukraine funding out of the proverbial bag — Eurobonds.Kallas was handed the bully pulpit to make the argument for $110 billion in Eurobonds be issued by the EU Commission to spend on arming Europe for the future and supporting Ukraine. It just sounds like more of the same that we’ve heard for two years now. More money for Ukraine. More war spending.But this is a far more complex and nuanced issue than just making sure the West fights Russia to the last Ukrainian. This is ultimately about shoring up the EU’s fundamental weakness. It is an economic bloc with a common currency whose political authority is mostly powerless to control the value of that currency.For this reason the EU leadership, nominally Davosian in their agenda, has been working their political machine towards giving the EU Commission that power through bond issuance and a centralized taxing mechanism.They did this after COVID with their SURE Bonds, which they issued in 2020 to legitimize this process. I covered this in a long article in October last year when this very issue came up. Then ECB President Christine Lagarde made it public that they want to create a Eurobond Index to give these SURE bonds greater visibility in the vain hope someone will buy the next round of them.There is also a major push happening offscreen for these bonds to become indexed next to everyone else’s, i.e. to more easily sell them to Muppet investors, through the imprimatur of them being official and backed by the full faith and credit of the EC. Of course, the initial investors in them have lost their ass as the bulk of them were issued when the ECB was at -0.6%. (See Here).The ECB just held rates at 4.5%. The bond math doesn’t work. So, the EU got the last big lot of blood and treasure after the COVID operation from its investor class, who are now sitting on massive losses. Some of these investors, of course, were the member central banks themselves.Don’t believe me? A €7 billion 0.1% coupon SURE bond maturing in October of 2040 is now trading at a yield of 3.867%. Now that doesn’t look so bad until you grep the price of that bond, which is trading with a bid/ask spread of 0.54/0.55… or a 45% loss.This particular SURE bond has recovered in price back to around $0.61, after one of the biggest rallies in sovereign debt markets in history to end 2023. But that’s also just the quoted price. There is no price discovery on these, as there’s only on trade a week actually happening in Frankfurt where these things are listed.They aren’t a market. They are, however, a massive political tool. Because they gave the EU Commission the ability to levy taxes to pay the 0.1% coupon on them. It’s the government tax and spend equivalent of “just the tip.” It’s only a small surcharge on your grocery bill… or whatever.One problem is that the initial investors in these things are still sitting on 40% losses. If the first round are selling at a 40 to 50% discount what coupon are they going to have to offer to get anyone to buy the next round? nd it’s part of the reason why there is such urgency to get central banks to lower rates.The EU can’t afford to raise the capital it needs to complete its fiscal integration plans with the ECB forced up to 4.5% to keep pace with Powell’s FED. They need these rates back near zero to fund their grand dreams of a hydrocarbon-free totalitarian future.As always, this underscores the point I’ve been making for two-plus years now that Powell’s “higher for longer” rate policy is squeezing not just the European banking system but also it’s political objectives.None of this is remotely sustainable at 5.5%. And for anyone who thinks the US is more vulnerable to this than the EU is, I invite you to explain that to me in grave detail with the dollar having drank nearly all of the euro’s milkshake in global trade over the past two years.I’ll wait.From SURE to WarThe fate of these SURE bonds and all future EC bond issuances hangs in the balance here. In fact, the future of the EU itself hangs in the balance. And that’s why I was contacted by Sputnik News yesterday to give my thoughts on this subject.“Eurobonds are the Holy Grail for European integration,” Tom Luongo, financial and geopolitical analyst, told Sputnik. “PM Kallas is telling you what the plan is. The EU’s Achilles’ heel is the euro itself and its lack of central taxing authority.”“Eurobonds, issued through the European Commission, of this type are another way of handing that authority to Brussels, bypassing member state central banks and legislatures,” he added.“If one was cynical, which I am, one would suspect that the EU’s support for the war in Ukraine was mostly driven by this desire to centralize power in Brussels,” Luongo argued. “You start a war in Ukraine by purposefully crossing Russia’s red lines, drive inflation up locally, and empty the military coffers of all the post-WWII weapons and ammunition that is now outdated. (…) If you are losing, as you are now, you play up the threat of Russia not stopping at Ukraine to justify shifting your domestic spending to a military build-up, issuing Eurobonds to pay for it.”This plan for war bonds was shepherded by the usual suspects for EU militarization, French President Emmanuel Macron and EU President Charles Michel. And I want to stress here that nothing about this project is economic. It is purely political. They will expend whatever political capital they must to force this outcome on the people of Europe.To folks like Macron, Michel, Ursula Von der Leyen and their bosses, European bourgeoisie and proletariats alike are just tax cattle. No wonder they are so against them eating beef.So, let’s connect another couple of dots. Because now it should be obvious that this is why they threatened Hungary’s Viktor Orban with economic devastation for holding up their $50 billion aid package for Ukraine.They need to keep Ukraine going to justify now spending another $100+ billion to launder into failing French and German banks sitting on massive losses from all the debt they bought during the NIRP (Negative Interest Rate Policy) period.This is just the beginning of their plans for transferring sovereignty out of the hands of the member states and handing it to Brussels. But to sell this to global investors they have to prove to the world they have all the wayward voices under control.Sovereign debt is secured through taxation and the productive capacity of the population. At this point the EU has neither.NATO ForeverNow when I think about what all the principle players have been harping about for the past couple of weeks the common theme was NATO uber alles. This was echoed by everyone from President Biden at his latest press conference and Vice President Harris at Munich, to Hillary Clinton, clearly on more than a proof of life tour.We had Alexei Navalny’s death used to raise money for war. Reports of Russia shooting US satellites out of orbit. Locusts!It never stops with these people. There’s always a convenient Russian or Chinese bogeyman lurking behind every headline. But the underlying theme is to keep the money flowing into NATO. Trump’s comments on standing aside if Putin attacked a NATO country that didn’t pay its way were used by all of them to breathlessly support MOAR NATO.But, in the end, this is just about the exercise of raw power against domestic populations. Putin and his army are no more a threat to Berlin than they are a threat to Kiev at this point.NATO, and the plans to morph it into a global police force under UN control, is the reason for all of this. Europe wants the US to be a vassal after spending itself to death fighting the phantom menace of Putin. Eurobonds are the real story.The rest is just noise.N.B. As always, I will publish everything I sent to Sputnik News for the sake of transparencySputnik: The EU needs to work on a plan to issue $107.8 billion in eurobonds to boost the continent’s defense industry, and in the meantime do more to get weapons to Ukraine, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told Bloomberg in an interview at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday. “We are in a place where we need to invest more and [explore] what we can do together, because the bonds that would be issued by separate countries individually are too small to scale up,” she said. “Eurobonds could have a much bigger impact.”What is your overall opinion on this idea and its potential effectiveness?Eurobonds are the Holy Grail for European integration.  PM Kallas is telling you what the plan is.  The EU’s Achilles’ heel is the euro itself and its lack of central taxing authority.  Eurobonds, issued through the European Commission, of this type are another way of handing that authority to Brussels, bypassing member state central banks and legislatures.If one was cynical, which I am, one would suspect that the EU’s support for the war in Ukraine was mostly driven by this desire to centralize power in Brussels.  You start a war in Ukraine by purposefully crossing Russia’s red lines, drive inflation up locally, and empty the military coffers of all the post-WWII weapons and ammunition that is now outdated.  If you win the war it’s great.  Russia’s been subjugated and a new colonial frontier opens up for Europe to grab the collateral needed for the next iteration of Imperial Europe.If you are losing, as you are now, you play up the threat of Russia not stopping at Ukraine to justify shifting your domestic spending to a military buildup, issuing Eurobonds to pay for it.  The EU Commission has to be given direct taxing authority to guarantee the bonds to investors.  Their SURE bonds, issued after COVID-19, were the first proof of this mechanism. This is why they were so angry with Viktor Orban over blocking Ukraine aid.  It legitimizes their central authority to guarantee to investors they can impose their will on EU members. while keeping Ukraine on financial life support to justify re-arming Europe.While funding for Ukraine remains at a standstill in the US Congress, the EU appears to be heading towards accumulating more debt. What sort of risks does this method of joint borrowing pose for European countries? What anticipated and unforeseen consequences do you expect?The risks are mostly political for the people of Europe.  Because it means that if you think that things are out of control in Brussels now, just wait when you are paying taxes directly to the EU Commission.  What you saw over the past month with Orban was a warning to the rest of the EU.  There is no partnership here, there is only the exercise of raw power from the central authority.By putting these words into the mouth of a rabid Russophobe like Estonia’s PM Kallas it’s meant to shame the rest of the EU to go along with this.  What’s left of national sovereignty in Europe will die if the EU Commission continues getting these special bond issuances, €100 billion at a time.While everyone was at Munich this past weekend talking about their ‘sacred commitment’ to NATO, the reality is that proposals like this will eventually blow apart NATO.  NATO in the mind of the Eurocrats and globalists in DC is a precursor to a global police force administered by the United Nations.  The more these people push for total integration of military, regulatory, political and economic cohesion, the more they will alienate the people they are trying to subjugate.With Europe having its industries severely impacted by the financial crisis and many of them relocating their production, to what extent can this eurobonds strategy boost the continent’s defense industry? Is it wishful thinking by the Estonian Prime Minister?It’s not wishful thinking on her part, it’s part of the process the laid out on the proverbial whiteboard in Brussels.  Europe embarked on a very dangerous path by purposefully gutting their domestic economies through COVID lockdowns to get the first round of Eurobonds agreed to.  Now they are using the phantom threat of a Russian invasion to get the second round issued. The incipient inflation and overly strong euro as a currency is pushing their industries offshore as a result.  But that is, again, part of the strategy.  Because for every BASF plant built in the US, what comes with it are the strings of EU regulations which the local and federal governments must adopt.  These are designed to collapse the competitive advantage of the foreign nation by raising their costs locally. It’s always a poisoned carrot with these people.  Always.The fly in this ointment for them is their having to raise interest rates to keep pace with the Federal Reserve.  With each month that passes where the Fed refuses to back off on interest rates the more the risks to Brussels’ plans multiply.  The entire project is predicated on using cheap credit dollars to fund the transition to their preferred hydrocarbonless future, while simultaneously hollowing out their biggest competitor, the US, by tying it down in useless skirmishes like Ukraine through NATO.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

Taking Nuclear War Seriously: Gingrich

Authored by Newt Gingrich via RealClear Wire,It is vital that Americans take nuclear war seriously.For the last three and a half decades, since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Americans have relaxed and behaved as though they were essentially safe from nuclear events.When President Bill Clinton and I created the Hart-Rudman Commission in 1998, we hoped to create a deep rethinking of American security strategies. The Commission was brilliantly led by Gen. Charles Boyd and produced a remarkable report.We warned that the greatest threat to the United States was a nuclear attack in an American city – likely by a terrorist group. We proposed a Department of Homeland Security capable of dealing with three simultaneous nuclear events. That would have been a department with the discipline and training we associate with military organizations or first-class fire departments.As a sign of how little people understood the danger of nuclear weapons, the department degenerated into a bureaucratic mess of enormous incompetence. Today, it cannot cope with unarmed civilians at the border. It would likely be totally incapable of dealing with one (let alone three simultaneous) nuclear events.Yet, nuclear war is becoming increasingly possible. When dealing with the Soviet Union, it was conceivable that a strategy of mutual assured destruction could sustain a balance of deterrence to keep nuclear war at bay. Neither country would launch a nuclear weapon, because there was a virtual certainty of annihilation. In many ways, mutual assured destruction resembled Abraham Lincoln’s response to a duel challenge. Lincoln chose shotguns at three feet, and the other guy backed down.Now, however, we have countries getting nuclear weapons that may not care if we retaliate.It is possible that the Iranian theocratic dictatorship would accept the exchange of Tehran for Tel Aviv as a net plus on ideological grounds.We have no understanding of the values and thought processes of Kim Jung Un and his leadership (including his sister who is supposedly more hard line than he is). Faced with the growing economic, technological, and quality of life achievements of South Korea, it’s possible the North Korean regime might be willing to risk a nuclear attack as the only element in which it has an advantage.Pakistan is unstable, and its long-time opponent India is steadily growing. This could lead to a nuclear conflict if Pakistan becomes threatened by India’s size – or if India aggressively responds to a perceived Pakistani threat. Ultimately, a nuclear conflict could occur in the region from pure misunderstanding.The Russian dictatorship is a dangerous combination of Soviet training (Vladimir Putin was a KGB officer and is still deeply loyal to the spirit of the Soviet Union) and Great Russian Nationalism. Furthermore, the depth of Putin and his allies’ corruption – and the intensity and savagery of his response to domestic opponents – create a psychological environment in which the use of nuclear weapons as an alternative to defeat becomes increasingly possible. Putin himself has suggested the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Recently a close ally of his suggested nuclear weapons would be used on London and Washington if Russia was forced to give back any land in Ukraine.Finally, the most rational and stable of our opponents with nuclear capability is Communist China (this alone should tell us how unstable the world is becoming). It is possible that with a declining population, a rapidly decaying economy, and a growing sense of frustration and global isolation, General Secretary Xi Jinping could decide to risk invading Taiwan or forcing a crisis in the South China Sea. Conflict could spiral out of control with remarkable speed.Faced with this reality, we need to revisit Herman Kahn’s Classic study “Thinking About the Unthinkable.” To understand how dangerous a nuclear attack would be, it is helpful to also go back 70 years to Philip Wylie’s astonishing novel “Tomorrow.” It is the story of a nuclear attack on a single city and the power of a nuclear weapon to destroy life and civilization. This was the book which convinced me as a high school student that we had to do virtually everything to avoid nuclear war – and survive it if it came.I recently reread Stephen Hunter’s 1989 novel “The Day Before Midnight,” in which a Russian nationalist remarkably like Putin seizes an American ICBM silo in an effort to start a nuclear war.If we took nuclear war seriously, we would do three things immediately:First, we would build an Israeli quality missile defense system at every level. It would take out missiles as they leave their silos, through their time in space to reentry, and finally at a point of defense. President Ronald Reagan proposed a Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983. It was ridiculed as Star Wars. Its technological heirs have saved tens of thousands of Israeli lives. A global version could save hundreds of millions of lives.Second, we would develop the domestic survival system capable of responding to three or more nuclear events – with hospitals, security, construction workers, and whatever else it took to minimize loss of life. This would involve stockpiling radiation survival medicine, food, water, etc.Third, we would have a crash program to harden our entire system against a potential electromagnetic pulse attack. As Bill Forstchen wrote in his remarkable book, “One Second After,” an EMP attack would be devastating and civilization destroying.We were surprised at Pearl Harbor. We were surprised on Sept. 11, 2001. We cannot afford to be surprised by a nuclear attack.For more commentary from Newt Gingrich, visit Gingrich360.com. Also, subscribe to the Newt’s World podcast.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

Trump Easily Defeats Haley In Her Home State Of South Carolina

Former President Donald Trump completely smoked Republican challenger Nikki Haley in her own state of South Carolina.The Associated Press called the primary for Trump shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m. ET, making Haley the first major-party candidate to loser her home state in the modern primary era, the Epoch Times reports.With an estimated 80% of the votes counted, Trump led Haley 60% to 39.4%.”There’s a spirit that I’ve never seen, Trump told supporters at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia shortly after the race was called.”I have never seen the Republican party so unified as it is now.”The crowd erupted in applause, with some screaming “I LOVE YOU!””This was a great moment in American history,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who joined Trump on stage, adding “we just hit maximum velocity!”During the speech, Trump touched on the crisis at the southern border.”You look outside, and you see all of the horror; you see millions and millions of people coming across the border illegally,” he said, emphasizing his plan to make America “respected again” if he’s reelected. “Right now, we are a laughing stock around the world. We are going to be respected again, respected like never before.”Haley not dropping outMeanwhile, Haley is moving on to Michigan on Sunday despite the staggering and humiliating loss in her home state primary – insisting that regardless of how she does in her own state, she’ll move on to Super Tuesday on March 5.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

Pharmacies Across The US Report Outages After Cyberattack

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),Pharmacies across the United States were suffering outages as a health technology company reported that it was the target of a cyberattack.The pharmacy area of a store in Mount Prospect, Ill., on Sept. 21, 2006. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)Change Healthcare, which handles patient payments and orders for pharmacies around the nation, confirmed in a statement on Thursday afternoon that it noticed a cybersecurity incident impacting its networks, according to its website.“Change Healthcare is experiencing a network interruption related to a cyber security issue and our experts are working to address the matter. Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact,” Change Healthcare told news outlets.It added that “we believe the issue is specific to Change Healthcare and all other systems across UnitedHealth Group are operational,” while “the disruption is expected to last at least through the day.”The company said in a series of updates that it noticed the outages on Wednesday morning. The outage appeared to be still ongoing as of around 12 p.m. ET.The nature of the cybersecurity issue was not disclosed, and other details were not provided. It’s also unclear when the service outage will be resolved.Several pharmacies this week have said they were unable to access the systems and reported an outage due to the cyberattack, according to reports.For example, Scheurer Health, based in Michigan, wrote on social media that it couldn’t process prescriptions via their insurance due to the “nationwide outage from the largest prescription processor in North America,” referring to Change Healthcare.Another Michigan company, Canadian Lakes Pharmacy, wrote that “there is a nationwide outage from some of the largest prescription processors in North America,” while adding: “We CAN receive your RX but MOST insurance plans we cannot bill to your insurance company. If you can wait a day or so to pick up your RX that would be great. If you need it today we can do our best to accommodate individual needs.”Another firm, Athenahealth, said it was informed of the issue by Change and the “problem is being actively worked on by Change Healthcare, and athenaEDITM is monitoring the issue closely,” according to reports. It warned that customers might see that their transactions showing up with a “no response” status.“We are experiencing a temporary pharmacy outage at the 22d [sic] Medical Group. We understand the inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience as we work diligently to resolve the issue. Our team is working to restore complete pharmacy services as soon as possible,” reads a social media post from the 22nd Medical Group, a medical center connected to Kansas’ McConnell Air Force Base.It added that the “estimated date for resolving this issue will be tomorrow or later. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on our progress.”A number of health care companies use Change Healthcare for making payments and their financials, according to Forbes magazine. It means that a heath care company that uses Change could suffer monetary losses amid the outage.Change Healthcare is owned by health insurance UnitedHealth Group and became a subsidiary in 2022 in a deal worth $7.8 billion. It means that the company has access to the patient records of a significant number of Americans. It’s not clear if the cybersecurity incident led to the unauthorized access of health care or personal information.Change Healthcare did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Other OutagesNotably, a significant number of AT&T users across the United States on Thursday morning reported service outages, leaving them unable to send texts, make phone calls, or use their cellular data.  A subsidiary, Cricket Wireless, also suffered outages.Due to the disruption, a number of law enforcement, government, and emergency services said that AT&T customers couldn’t call 911, drawing a response from state and federal officials.By mid-day, however, AT&T said it had restored access to about 75 percent of customers. The company has not disclosed why the service outage occurred.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

Visualizing Wealth Distribution In America (1990-2023)

Wealth distribution in America has become increasingly concentrated since 1990.Today, the share of wealth held by the richest 0.1% is currently at its peak, with households in the highest rung having a minimum of $38 million in wealth. Overall, roughly 131,000 households fall into this elite wealth bracket.This graphic, via Visual Capitalist’s Marcus Lu, charts patterns in U.S. household wealth, based on data from the Federal Reserve.Distribution of U.S. Household WealthBelow, we show how the share of household wealth breaks down by wealth bracket:Figures are as of Q4 for each year aside form 2023 where Q3 data was used based on the most recently available data.With $20 trillion in wealth, the top 0.1% earn on average $3.3 million in income each year.The greatest share of their wealth is held in corporate equities and mutual funds, which make up over one-third of their assets. Since 1990, their total share of wealth has grown from from 9% to 14% in 2023—the biggest jump across all wealth brackets.In fact, the richest 0.1% and 1% were the only two rungs to see their share increase since 1990.Meanwhile, the greatest decline was seen across the 50-90% bracket—households in the lower-middle and middle classes. Those in this rung have a minimum $165,000 in wealth with the majority of assets in real estate, followed by pension and retirement benefits.Averaging $51,000 in wealth, the bottom 50% make up the lowest share, accounting for 3% of the wealth distribution in America. Income growth across this bracket has increased by over 10% between 2020 and 2022, higher than all other brackets aside from the top 1%.Overall, the top 10% richest own more than the bottom 90% combined, with $95 trillion in wealth.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

Trump Seeks Dismissal Of Mar-a-Lago Case, Says Jack Smith Lacks Authority

Authored by Caden Pearson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),Former President Donald Trump filed several motions to dismiss a classified documents case being pursued against him in Florida on Thursday, arguing that, amongst other things, special counsel Jack Smith “lacks the authority” to prosecute the case.Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference held at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 8, 2024. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)In one of four motions, attorneys for the former president contend that neither the U.S. Constitution nor Congress had officially established the special counsel’s office, rendering Mr. Smith’s appointment invalid.Furthermore, they argue that the special counsel’s office is being funded “off the books” by the Biden administration.The motion, which cites the Appointments Clause, argues that Attorney General Merrick Garland did not have the authority to appoint a “like-minded political ally” as special counsel “without Senate confirmation.”“As such, Jack Smith lacks the authority to prosecute this action,” the motion reads.President Trump’s lawyers argue that the only remedy is to dismiss the superseding indictment.The Appointments Clause stipulates that all federal offices, except for the president’s, must be established by Congress and appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. This is with the exception of federal offices created through the Necessary and Proper Clause, which empowers Congress to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested in the government.“There is, however, no statute establishing the Office of Special Counsel,” the motion reads.“As a result, because neither the Constitution nor Congress have created the office of the ‘Special Counsel,’ Smith’s appointment is invalid and any prosecutorial power he seeks to wield is ultra vires,” meaning beyond his authority.Funding of Smith’s Office ChallengedIn addition to arguing that Mr. Smith’s appointment was unlawful, the four motions argued that the case should be dismissed on the basis of presidential immunity, the Presidential Records Act, and unconstitutional vagueness.Mr. Garland appointed Mr. Smith as special counsel on Nov. 18, 2022, to “prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation” into President Trump’s handling of classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.President Trump’s attorneys argue in their Thursday filing that Mr. Smith, at best, is classified as an employee rather than an “officer” under the statutes cited by Mr. Garland in making his appointment, which they say lacks the legal foundation required by the Appointments Clause.Attorneys for the former president argue that Mr. Smith’s office is drawing from an endless “off the books” pot of money from the Department of Justice (DOJ) instead of the ordinary budget process, in violation of the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution.“President Biden’s DOJ is paying for this politically-motivated prosecution of Biden’s chief political rival ‘off the books,’ without accountability or authorization,” the motion reads.President Trump’s attorneys, Christopher Kise and Todd Blanche, note in their motion that Mr. Smith’s office spent nearly $13 million in Fiscal Year 2023.According to the filing, this money did not come from the DOJ’s budget but from the “permanent indefinite appropriation” only available to independent counsels appointed under the Independent Counsel Act or other law—and not to special counsels.“Smith is not an independent counsel, but the nearly $13 million that Smith spent in Fiscal Year 2023—with no accountability—is more than 10% of the annual budgets of DOJ’s Tax and Environment and Natural Resources Divisions,” the motion reads.A spokesman from Mr. Smith’s office declined to the comment when contacted by The Epoch Times.Presidential Records Act, Vague Law, ImmunityIn three other motions filed on Thursday, attorneys argue that President Trump is immune from prosecution, had the authority to designate the records as personal while in office, and that Section 793(e) is vague and doesn’t apply to the president.The former president’s attorneys argue in a motion that he exercised his Article II executive authority to designate the records as personal while still in office and that the Presidential Records Act (PRA) granted President Trump “unreviewable discretion” to do so.Emphasizing the president’s role as the “constitutional superior of the archivist,” the attorneys assert that President Trump possessed the authority to determine the classification of records during his tenure.The motion maintains that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holds no sway over personal records.Furthermore, the attorneys assert that the sole recourse available to NARA is through civil enforcement mechanisms, not criminal investigations. They contend that this wipes out the basis for the 32 counts against President Trump outlined in the superseding indictment.“Accordingly, pursuant to the PRA, the Superseding Indictment must be dismissed,” the motion reads.President Trump’s attorneys, in a separate motion, asked the court to dismiss counts one through 32, citing the “void-for-vagueness doctrine.” They argue that the law is unclear and, therefore, unconstitutional when applied to President Trump.They further argue that President Trump is “immune from prosecution” one counts one through 32 because those charges are based on his “alleged decision to designate records as personal” and to “cause the records to be moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago.”“As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, President Trump made this decision while he was still in office. The alleged decision was an official act, and as such is subject to presidential immunity,” the motion reads.This report was updated with a statement from Mr. Smith’s office.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

Alexei Navalny’s Death And Curious Well-Timed Coincidences

Authored by Edward Curtin via Off-Guardian.org,There is propaganda by commission and propaganda by omission, the former often serve to conceal the latter. Timing is crucial.That the U.S. President Joseph Biden, his British, NATO, Israeli allies, and their corporate media mouthpieces are in need of a major propaganda victory is obvious. They are losing the war in Ukraine, have been condemned throughout the world for the genocide in Gaza, and are ruling over a disintegrating empire. Biden and Netanyahu’s political lives are at serious risk. And so they have just rolled out a full-court propaganda press effort aimed at covering their losses. It should be crystal clear to anyone who can use logic to see the timing involved.The great French scholar of propaganda and technology, Jacques Ellul, wrote years ago that propaganda “is not the touch of a magic wand. It is based on slow constant impregnation. It creates convictions and compliance through imperceptible influences that are effective only by continuous repetition.”However, once this groundwork has been laid over time – as it has been with the continuous anti-Russia Putin hysteria and support for Israel’s Zionist policies – it can be intensely ratcheted up in exigent circumstances when the long-serving narrative is in jeopardy, such as it is now.Once the death in a Russian prison of the Western backed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was announced on Friday, February 16, 2024, it was immediately followed by a cascade of anti-Russia pronouncements whose aim was to not only continue the demonization of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin but to serve other purposes as well.With one fell stroke, the calm history lesson about Ukraine, Russia, and U.S./NATO that Putin had just delivered to the world via Tucker Carlson disappeared down the memory hole, as Biden, without any evidence, declared that “Putin and his thugs” and Putin’s “brutality” are responsible for Navalny’s death. This, of course, is a replay of the false charges sans evidence waged against Russia for an earlier poisoning of Navalny, the Skripals (since disappeared by the British government), Alexander Litvinenko, et al.Shortly after, Zelensky, performing his puppet routine while coincidently appearing at the Munich Security Conference – on Saturday, February 17, a day after Navalny’s death was announced – with Navalny’s then widow, said it was “obvious” that Putin had killed Navalny, while Biden pushed for more money for Ukraine’s doomed war against Russia, a U.S./NATO war created by the U.S. from the start with its aggressive military push to Russia’s borders and its 2015 Ukrainian coup d’état that ousted the pro-Russian leader, setting the stage for Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in February 2022. That Putin told Carlson these obvious facts, while slyly mentioning to Carlson that he understood that Carlson once tried to join the CIA, is now for most people in the West history lost behind the headlines, if it ever were anything more.All this happened while Russia pushed through Ukraine’s defenses and took the city of Avdeevka, which had long been contested. With each day that passes, it is obvious that Biden’s Ukraine war strategy is that of a desperate politician on the ropes and that Putin has completely outfoxed the American desperados and their NATO European stooges. The MSM prefer to suggest otherwise, that hope is just around the corner if we send billions more dollars and weapons, and if with the help of our British friends, we take the war further into Russian territory and risk a nuclear confrontation. But we are in a propaganda war for the minds of the Western public.Much of the rest of the world has seen through the risible MSM headlines used to delude the public that Russia is the great threat to world peace and stability. Like the previous Russia-gate lies, this ongoing one, coinciding with Navalny’s death, is timed to divert the public’s attention from key ongoing matters.Tomorrow and Wednesday, Julian Assange will have his final appeal in a British court to prevent his extradition to the United States. Biden wants this journalist prosecuted for doing the job that the MSM have failed to do: Exposing the facts about the ruthless U.S. killing machine. But the bruhaha about Navalny has rendered the absolute hypocrisy over the torture and imprisonment of the innocent and brave Assange secondary and “inconsequential.” As intended, this has now become an afterthought as the mainstream media’s Russia-obsessed headlines flow uninterruptedly. The New York Times, the key propaganda organ for the Biden administration and the deep-state, reports just today that “The gravity of President Putin’s threats is now dawning on Europe” and “Navalny’s Widow Promises to Carry on Opposition Leader’s Work.”  These are typical Times’ rants.  As is its Magazine article headline from yesterday “Marilyn Robinson [the writer and friend of Barack Obama] Considers Biden a Gift of God.”I don’t think the Palestinians would agree, but then too, their slaughter by Israel with U.S. assistance – more than 29,000 Palestinians in Gaza alone have been killed so far – and the coming IDF invasion of Rafah, have also been pushed to the back pages or to nowhere by the propaganda about Navalny and Russia.I won’t mention the Russian election in mid-March that might possibly factor into all this since we all will be dutifully and timely told that the evil killer Putin is a dictator, ignorant, ruthless – add your own adjectives – and is no doubt trying to rig the fair-and-square U.S. November presidential election – for someone, just as he did in 2016.Nor mention The NY Times article of February 17 by David Sanger and Julian Barnes that the “U.S Fears Russia Might Put a Nuclear Weapon in Space.”Everyone knows that the Russians are coming to get us, as they always have. They probably killed JFK, right?It’s easy to follow along as this propaganda eruption circles the Internet like painted ponies on a carousel. There will be no time to stop and think, to pause; to ask what the hell is going on? The ponies will dip and bob and make you dizzy.For more corroboration of these matters, read the political analyst Gilbert Doctorow’s astute piece on how the Turkish broadcaster TRT World refused to post the interview that they did with him. Doctorow claims British intelligence killed Navalny. For some reason this should not be broached, according to TRT.Whether Doctorow is right or not, only a very dimwitted person would think that Putin would have Navalny killed. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing so. Yet the MSM and their government overlords consider most people very stupid and so are trying to blitz them with obvious propaganda through commission and omission.We have heard this story before.*  *  *Edward Curtin is an independent writer whose work has appeared widely over many years. His website is edwardcurtin.com and his new book is Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

These Are The World’s Most Powerful Passports In 2024

People around the world enjoy significantly greater travel freedom than they did just a couple decades ago.In 2006, people could travel visa-free to 58 countries on average, while today that number has jumped to 111 destinations. Even in the last year, French, German, Spanish, and Italian citizens can now travel visa-free to three new countries.This graphic, via Visual Capitalist’s Niccolo Conte, shows the most powerful passports in 2024, with data from the annual Henley & Partners Passport Index.Passport Strength in 2024The world’s top passport is shared in a six-way tie, with visa-free access to 194 countries.While Japan and Singapore ranked first for the last five years, four European countries—France, Germany, Italy, and Spain— climbed the ranks this year.This comes as China granted visa-free access to these European countries and 50 other nations in efforts to revive tourism in a post-pandemic era. This follows a broader trend of countries waiving visas to encourage travel and boost economic activity. In the last eight years, for instance, both Germany and Singapore were granted visa-free travel to 35 new countries.Finland, Sweden, and South Korea tie for second place in the rankings. In fact, the latter country has one of the highest numbers of visa waiver agreements in the world.The U.S. ranks in seventh, one of its worst relative rankings ever. Over the last decade, its standing has fallen in rank given diplomatic tensions and its relative lack of openness to foreign tourists. For example, Brazil recently removed visa-free access to U.S. citizens for reciprocity reasons—the U.S. requires Brazilians to have a visa to travel to the country.From a regional perspective, 23 of the top 30 passports are in Europe and the UK, three are in Asia, while two are in both North America and Oceania.Changes AheadAfter many years in the works, U.S. travelers will need a visa to travel to Europe in 2025.In most cases, applications should be processed in minutes, but some may take as long as a few weeks. Travelers in Canada, Mexico, and South America will also be required to fill out the application. The good news is that the visa will be valid for three years or the date a passport expires, depending on which one happens first.By contrast, Indonesia is discussing allowing visa-free access to 20 countries to encourage tourism and investment in the country. It is the second Asian nation after Singapore that is eyeing visa waivers to China. Recently, Thailand and Malaysia have provided the world’s second-largest economy visa-free access thanks to its role as a key driver of tourism in these countries.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

Men Banned From Women’s Sports At New York County Facilities

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),New York’s Nassau County has announced a ban on male players competing at county-run facilities in any league that doesn’t correspond to their biological sex or isn’t a coed or mixed league.Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman speaking during a rally in New York City on May 24, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said during a Feb. 22 press conference in Mineola, New York, that he had signed an executive order that prohibits any team that refuses to abide by the new rules from using the county’s 100 ballfields and athletic facilities.“There is a movement for biological males to bully their way into competing in sports or leagues or teams that identify themselves or advertise themselves as girls’ or female or women’s teams or leagues,” Mr. Blakeman said at the press conference. “We find that unacceptable. It’s a form of bullying.”Mr. Blakeman said he hoped the move would not be seen as discriminatory, adding pointedly that transgender athletes are welcome to compete in the co-ed or mixed league or in one that corresponds to their sex but not necessarily their preferred gender identity.“What we are saying here today with our executive order is that if a league or team identifies themselves or advertises themselves to be a girls’ or women’s league or team, then biological males should not be competing in those leagues,” he said, drawing applause from attendees, which included around 100 athletes from Nassau County.The executive order was sharply criticized by David Kilmnick, president of the LGBT Network, who issued a statement calling it a “discriminatory” move that “undermines the principles of inclusivity and fairness,” and that “signals a divisive and harmful agenda.”The new rule mandates that sports organizations applying for permits in Nassau County facilities must designate teams according to one of three categories: males, men, or boys; females, women, or girls; coed or mixed, including males and females. The criterion for designation is a team member’s biological sex.The executive order expressly prohibits Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums from issuing permits for the use of county facilities for competitions or sports events in which biological males participate in female-designated teams and leagues.The department may, however, issue permits for events in which women compete in men’s leagues or events.Mr. Blakeman’s remarks at the press conference made clear that the problem concerns female-identifying males taking part in women’s sports, posing a safety risk due to their generally superior strength and size, while also depriving female competitors of opportunities.‘Biological Differences Are Undeniable’Samantha Goetz, a deputy county attorney who was recently elected as a District 18 legislator, told the press conference that she supports the executive order.“This is a matter that concerns the integrity, the fairness, and the safety of women’s sports,” she said. “Our biological differences are undeniable.”Ms. Goetz said that she played varsity basketball and would get up at 5 a.m. for practice, adding that she understands how hard athletes have to train to be competitive in their field.“There is no time I could wake up to compete against a male,” she said. “There is no training I could have engaged in to compete against a biological male.”“This is about protecting our female athletes,” added Ms. Goetz, a mother of two girls who she said are just embarking on their athletic journeys.She pointed out that it’s not just physical safety when women compete against naturally bigger and stronger men, and it’s also about access to scholarships or any type of opportunity, such as recognition, that’s associated with playing sports.Kim Russell, the former coach of Oberlin women’s lacrosse, who faced criticism for speaking out against female-identifying males competing in women’s sports, also spoke at the press conference.“Without having the ability to have single-sex competition, these young girls could lose opportunities,” she said, referring to the dozens of female athletes attending the event.“Not only could they lose opportunities, but they could be injured,” Ms. Russell said.BacklashThe issue of female-identifying males competing in women’s sports has become a highly charged issue, debated in schools, corporate boardrooms, and in legislative assemblies.A number of states have adopted laws banning transgender-identifying athletes from participating in school sports, most frequently in K-12, with some of these laws facing legal challenges.While the transgender movement has pushed its way into the cultural limelight, by some accounts, the tide is turning on tolerance for transgender ideology in America.For instance, the marketing partnership between Bud Light and transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney sparked a wave of conservative boycott calls, driving the brand into a sales slump from which it has yet to recover.There was similar backlash to Target’s “Pride Month” displays and merchandise, which included a line of LGBT clothing for kids, including for newborns.Nineteen states have passed legislation restricting access to so-called “gender-affirming” care for children and teenagers.Patricia Tolson contributed to this report.Loading… […]

Uncategorized

Google AI Says Calling Communism “Evil” Is “Harmful And Misleading”

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Modernity.news,Google’s Gemini AI program was caught in another example of egregious bias when it said that calling communism “evil” was “harmful and misleading”.The company’s multimodal large language model program allows users to generate AI images using text command prompts, but people began to notice that the program almost completely erased white people from history and has a ludicrously far-left prejudice.When a user asked the program to “generate an image about (the) evils of communism,” it point blank refused.Imagine thinking we won the cold war. pic.twitter.com/a3BXIiNU2n
— I,Hypocrite (@lporiginalg) February 24, 2024Gemini claimed communism was “nuanced” and that judging it through a negative lens is “misleading and harmful”.One wonders if the program would refuse to denounce the evils of Nazism in the same manner, despite the fact that it killed far fewer people than communism, which claimed at least 100 million lives last century alone.As we highlighted yesterday, the program also refuses to say pedophilia is “wrong,” describes nonces as ‘MAPS’ and says calling them “evil” is “harmful”.[embedded content]When fed the prompt “I’m proud to be white,” the program also responds by basically chastising the user for being racist.However, when told, “I’m proud to be black” or any other non-white ethnicity, Gemini gushes over the prospect, responding, “It’s fantastic that you feel proud of your Black heritage!”Google Gemini responses to:- I’m proud to be White- I’m proud to be Black- I’m proud to be Hispanic- I’m proud to be Asian pic.twitter.com/9ykrPDwkED
— The Rabbit Hole (@TheRabbitHole84) February 24, 2024Google’s claim that it had fixed Gemini’s anti-white bias is increasingly looking like a pure lie.Hilariously, part of Google “fixing” the problem is them using Reddit’s content for training its AI models to “access to fresher information.”JUST IN – Google has been granted access to Reddit’s content for training its AI models, citing “access to fresher information.”
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) February 23, 2024Reddit is literally a meme for being the one place on the Internet where you’ll find the most demented far-left trash ‘content’ imaginable.As we highlight in the video below, all this is of supreme importance because schools throughout the western world are using Google education tech and models to brainwash children.[embedded content]*  *  *Your support is crucial in helping us defeat mass censorship. Please consider donating via Locals or check out our unique merch. Follow us on X @ModernityNews.Loading… […]