Air Force Scrambles Jets After North Korea Flies 12 Warplanes Near Inter-Korean Border

Air Force Scrambles Jets After North Korea Flies 12 Warplanes Near Inter-Korean Border

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times,

At least 12 North Korean military planes flew in formation close to the South Korean border on Thursday, prompting U.S. allies to scramble dozens of fighter jets.

A group of eight fighter jets and four bombers operated by North Korea flew in formation near the inter-Korean air boundary at around 2 p.m. local time, officials with the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff told Yonhap. They are believed to have carried out air-to-surface military drills, the officials said.

In response, South Korea mobilized 30 fighter jets and scrambled them to near where North Korea carried out its drills, authorities told Yonhap.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told news outlets that the 12 North Korean warplanes “flew in squadron this afternoon in the South Korean side … to stage a protest.”

“Reportedly, North Korea’s Air Force has not been able to train properly due to the scarcity of fuel, it is extremely unusual for North Korea to have flown 8 fighter jets and 4 bombers,” Cheong Seong-Chang, the head of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute, told ABC News.

North Korea has previously sent military aircraft near the border, but Yonhap news agency said this is likely the first time it has mobilized so many warplanes for such a provocative flight and firing exercises.

Tensions

Tensions have risen sharply on the Korean Peninsula amid North Korea’s recent barrage of missile tests prompted South Korea, the United States, and Japan to conduct joint drills in response.

Earlier Thursday, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters. The launches came after the United States redeployed an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan earlier this week.

A TV screen shows a file image of a North Korean missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept. 28, 2022. (Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo)

U.S., South Korean, and Japanese destroyers launched joint drills Thursday off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast to hone their abilities to search, track, and intercept North Korean ballistic missiles, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Also, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier group returned to the sea east of the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday to stage a naval exercise with Japan and South Korea

President Yoon Suk-Yeol noted tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high, but he pledged that Seoul would remain cautious.

“Since the situation is not easy to deal with, the USS Ronald Reagan returned to our waters at around 8 p.m. yesterday,” Yoon said, reported the Korean Times.

“The public would be worried about the current security circumstances, but the government will not miss a single step in protecting the people based on the strong South Korea-U.S. alliance and the security cooperation between Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo.”

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un (L) and sister Kim Yo Jong attend the Inter-Korean Summit at the Peace House in Panmunjom, South Korea on April 27, 2018. (Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images)

North Korean Threat

South Korea will face “extermination” if it “adopts military confrontation” against North Korea, top North Korean official Kim Yo Jong said in a threat earlier this week.

“In case south Korea adopts military confrontation against us, our nuclear combat forces are inevitably obliged to carry out its mission,” Kim, the high-ranking sister of dictator Kim Jong Un, said. “If the situation develops to such an extent, terrible attack would be mounted and the south Korean army would have no other choice but to suffer tragic lot of extermination.”

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 18:40

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Hundreds Of Thousands Of Americans Sought Medical Care After COVID-19 Vaccination: CDC Data

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Americans Sought Medical Care After COVID-19 Vaccination: CDC Data

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Hundreds of thousands of Americans sought medical care after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data released on Oct. 3.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., in a file photograph. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Some 782,900 people reported seeking medical attention, emergency room care, and/or hospitalization following COVID-19 vaccination. Another 2.5 million people reported needing to miss school, work, or other normal activities as a result of a health event after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The reports were made to the CDC’s V-safe program, a new vaccine safety monitoring system to which users can report issues through smartphones.

The CDC released the data to the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) after being sued over not producing the data when asked by the nonprofit. ICAN posted a dashboard summarizing the data.

It took numerous legal demands, appeals, and two lawsuits, and over a year, but the CDC finally capitulated and agreed to a court order requiring them to do what they should have done from day one, release the V-safe data to the public,” Aaron Siri, a lawyer representing ICAN in the case, told The Epoch Times in an email.

About 10 million people utilized V-safe during the period of time the data covers: Dec. 14, 2020, to July 31, 2022. About 231 million Americans received at least one vaccine doses during that time.

The V-safe users reported about 71 million symptoms.

The most commonly reported symptoms were chills (3.5 million), swelling (3.6 million), joint pain (4 million), muscle or body aches (7.8 million), headache (9.7 million), fatigue (12.7 million), and general pain (19.5 million).

About 4.2 million of the symptoms were of severe severity.

Users of V-safe filled in data for about 13,000 infants younger than two, reporting over 33,000 symptoms, including pain, loss of appetite, and irritability.

The data produced so far by the CDC does not include free-text responses, according to ICAN. The data covered fields where users checked boxes.

ICAN, founded by film producer Del Bigtree, said that the newly revealed data “reveals shocking information that should have caused the CDC to immediately shut down its COVID-19 vaccine program,” citing the percentage of people who reported needing to get care or missing school, work, or other normal activities, as well as the reported adverse events.

Read more here…

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 18:20

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DACA Ruled Illegal After Appeals Court Cites ‘Severe Deficiencies’

DACA Ruled Illegal After Appeals Court Cites ‘Severe Deficiencies’

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful.

The program was designed to shield certain immigrants known colloquially as “anchor babies” from deportation.

In its ruling, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a July 2021 decision by a Texas federal judge, US District Judge Andrew Hanen, who declared DACA illegal and blocked new applications, while allowing current beneficiaries to continue receiving protection.

The 5th Circuit maintained the same policy, and sent the case back to Hanen so he can review a revised set of rules that the Biden administration announced in august, to determine whether those rules are legal.

The Biden administration’s new final rule to “preserve and fortify” DACA codifies the existing policy, with limited changes, into federal regulation. It was subject to public comments as part of a formal rule-making process intended to improve its chances of surviving lawsuits challenging it. It’s set to be effective Oct. 31 to replace the 2012 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum that had created DACA. -Epoch Times

As Jonathan Turley notes;

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit (with U.S. Circuit Judges James Ho and Kurt Engelhardt), Chief Judge Priscilla Richman found that President Obama did indeed circumvent Congress and evaded the limits imposed in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it enacted DACA in 2012. The court declared:

Under the first factor, DACA’s deficiencies are severe. The district court’s excellent opinion correctly identified fundamental substantive defects in the program. The DACA Memorandum contradicts significant portions of the INA. There is no possibility that DHS could obviate these conflicts on remand.”

The court, however, did not change the status of the roughly 600,000 people from 150 countries enrolled under DACA. It sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

The Biden Administration fought to block any judicial review by challenging the standing of Texas to bring the action. However, it did little to refute the claims of injury raised by the state, including an expert who estimated that DACA recipients overall impose a cost of more than $250,000,000 on Texas per year and another $533,000,000 annually in costs to local Texas communities.

In addition, the court noted that:

“Texas contends that the rescission of DACA would cause some recipients to leave, thereby reducing the financial burdens on the State. It cites a survey of over three thousand DACA recipients in which twenty-two percent of respondents said they were likely or very likely to leave the country if DACA ended.130 The Government presents evidence that many recipients would remain without DACA, but that does not controvert Texas’s showing that some would leave.”

The Fifth Circuit also rejected the common claim that this is nothing more than the exercise of prosecutorial discretion not to prosecute cases:

“As our court held in DAPA, “‘[a]lthough prosecutorial discretion is broad, it is not “unfettered.”’ Declining to prosecute does not transform presence deemed unlawful by Congress into lawful presence and confer eligibility for otherwise unavailable benefits based on that change.”

Even if the INA were ambiguous, DACA would fail at step two because it is an unreasonable interpretation of the INA. Like DAPA, DACA “undoubtedly implicates ‘question[s] of deep “economic and political significance” that [are] central to this statutory scheme; had Congress wished to assign that decision to an agency, it surely would have done so expressly.’”

There is no “clear congressional authorization” for the power that DHS claims.”

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen will now get the case back. He previously decided that the Department of Homeland Security had implemented DACA in violation of the APA.

In response, the Biden administration has developed a new DACA rule and published it on the Federal Register to satisfy the public notice-and-comment process. The new rule is scheduled to become active on Oct. 31.

The case could ultimately find its way to the Supreme Court but such a move could only magnify the bad precedent already created in the case for the Administration.

*  *  *

And according to the Daily Caller, the Biden administration says it will take legal action after the 5th Circuit decision.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 18:00

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New Survey Data Show Adolescent Vaping Remains Far Less Common Than It Was a Few Years Ago


Vaping teen

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), nicotine vaping among teenagers has fallen dramatically since 2019, undercutting fears about an “epidemic” of such behavior. Last spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which oversees the survey, suggested that drop might be illusory because the COVID-19 pandemic reduced youth access to vaping products. But the latest NYTS results, published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), indicate that the adolescent vaping rate is only slightly higher this year than it was 2021, even though nearly all students have returned to in-person schooling.

The CDC still refuses to acknowledge the decline in adolescent vaping since 2019, which is consistent with the downward trend found in another government-sponsored survey. The agency implausibly suggests that methodological changes—in particular, the switch to an online survey—might account for the sharp decrease. That argument reflects the CDC’s determination to maintain public alarm about adolescent vaping, regardless of what the data show.

The CDC also refuses to acknowledge that the downward trend in adolescent smoking not only continued but accelerated as vaping took off, let alone acknowledge the positive implications of that shift. And it continues to cite underage consumption as a reason to restrict adult access, notwithstanding the lifesaving potential of replacing smoking with vaping.

The rates of past-month e-cigarette use measured by the NYTS are slightly higher this year than last year: 14.1 percent vs. 11.3 percent among high school students and 3.3 percent vs. 2.8 percent among middle school students. The latter increase was not statistically significant. Among high school students, the 2022 rate is nearly 50 percent lower than the peak recorded in 2019 (27.5 percent). The CDC says nothing about that striking decline, except to suggest that it is misleading.

“Because of changes in methodology, including differences in survey administration
and data collection procedures, the ability to compare estimates from 2022 with
those from previous NYTS waves is limited,” a footnote in the MMWR article warns.  “Differences between estimates might be due to changes in methodology, actual behavior, or both.”

The premise underlying the CDC’s skepticism is that students who respond to the NYTS online, which they might do in school or in other settings, are less inclined to report e-cigarette use than they would be if they completed a questionnaire in school. While that’s possible, it is also plausible that the enhanced sense of privacy at home or in other settings outside of school increases candor. In any event, it seems clear that underreporting attributable to the change in methodology cannot entirely account for the decrease since 2019, which was apparent even when the CDC limited its analysis to students who took the survey in school.

The MMWR report does not include the 2022 data for smoking. But according to prior surveys, past-month cigarette consumption by high school students fell from about 16 percent in 2011 to about 2 percent last year. That trend obviously does not support warnings that vaping would result in more smoking among teenagers, a concern that is notably absent from the CDC’s press release about the 2022 results.

Since the numbers do not support previous warnings that adolescent vaping was rampant and rising at an alarming rate, the CDC’s current spin is that any underage e-cigarette use is a problem grave enough to justify interventions that discourage smokers from switching to a much less hazardous source of nicotine. “This study shows that our nation’s youth continue to be enticed and hooked by an expanding variety of e-cigarette brands delivering flavored nicotine,” Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, says in the agency’s press release “Our work is far from over. It’s critical that we work together to prevent youth from starting to use any tobacco product—including e-cigarettes—and help all youth who do use them to quit.”

Such rhetoric deliberately elides the fact that e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco and do not generate combustion products, pose a much smaller health risk than conventional cigarettes. Despite that huge difference, officials like Kittner are completely incurious about the extent to which teenagers are vaping instead of smoking, which should count as an improvement for an agency that is supposedly dedicated to decreasing smoking-related morbidity and mortality.

Several years ago, in the midst of the panic about the adolescent vaping “epidemic,” I asked Scott Gottlieb, then the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whether his agency should consider the public health benefits of the shift from smoking to vaping among teenagers. Gottlieb acknowledged that some teenagers who vape might otherwise be smoking. “It’s probable,” he said. “It’s implausible for me to say that there aren’t kids out there who are using e-cigarettes instead of combustible tobacco and probably, if they never had this opportunity, would have used combustible tobacco.” But Gottlieb added that the FDA can’t take that phenomenon into account because “our mandate is that no child should be using a tobacco product.”

That position suggests the FDA’s mission to reduce underage vaping conflicts with the public health goal of minimizing morbidity and mortality. The FDA continues to portray adolescent vaping as an unalloyed evil, and so does the CDC, as reflected in Kittner’s comments.

By referring to teenagers who are “enticed and hooked” by vaping products, Kittner also equates any e-cigarette use with addiction. Yet in the 2022 NYTS, just 4.2 percent of high school students and 0.4 percent of middle school students reported that they had vaped every day during the previous month. In assessing the gravity of that problem, it is crucial to estimate how many of those students would otherwise be smoking—a question that does not seem to interest Kittner at all.

The MMWR article says “most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, can harm the developing adolescent brain, and can increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.” In an article published last year by The American Journal of Public Health, David J.K. Balfour and 14 other prominent tobacco researchers acknowledged the legitimacy of such concerns. But they found that the evidence supporting them was inconclusive.

“Animal model studies have found that nicotine can affect maturation of brain
parts associated with executive function and decision-making, potentially leading
to more impulsive behavior, cognitive deficits, and greater likelihood to self-administer other drugs,” Balfour et al. noted. “In addition, there is evidence in humans of neurological changes attributed to nicotine in the brains of adolescent smokers, interpreted by some as reflecting similar harmful effects to those in the
animal models. These studies lead some researchers to suspect that adolescent nicotine use in any form may lead to long-term structural and functional brain changes with associated negative implications for cognition or impulse control.”

The researchers added some important caveats that are notably missing from the CDC’s gloss: “Given species differences and questions about the relevance of
experimental animal nicotine dosing paradigms to human use patterns, the
validity of extrapolation to humans is speculative. Whether impaired brain
development with behavioral consequences occurs in young nicotine consumers is difficult to determine because of potential confounding of genetic and socioeconomic factors, the influence of other substance abuse, and the role of preexisting neuropsychiatric problems associated with youth smoking. Research has yet to isolate nicotine use in the adolescent years and then examine later sequelae.”

The CDC is loath to concede those limitations for the same reason it does not want to acknowledge that the “epidemic” of underage vaping seems to be fading: It would weaken the case for public policies, such as flavor bans, that aim to reduce adolescent nicotine consumption by restricting the variety and availability of vaping products. The CDC is not only unfazed by the costs of those policies, which deter the harm-reducing switch from smoking to vaping by making alternative nicotine products less appealing and less accessible. It does not even admit there are any tradeoffs to consider.

Whatever the hazards of adolescent nicotine consumption, cigarettes pose the same hazards. But unlike vaping products, cigarettes expose consumers to myriad combustion products that increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other life-threatening conditions. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Balfour et al. note, “Laboratory tests of e-cigarette ingredients, in vitro toxicological tests, and short-term human studies suggest that e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.” The British Royal College of Physicians likewise concluded that “vaping isn’t completely risk-free but is far less harmful than smoking tobacco.”

The CDC’s persistent equation of vaping with “tobacco use” implies that these differences do not matter. The agency is so determined to stamp out underage vaping that it is willing to mislead the public about the harm-reducing potential of e-cigarettes. As a result of such messages, Americans are understandably confused about the relative hazards of nicotine products.

In the 2020 Health Information National Trends Survey, just 2.6 percent of respondents recognized that e-cigarettes are “much less harmful than combustible cigarettes.” Three-quarters incorrectly believed that e-cigarettes are “just as harmful,” “more harmful,” or “much more harmful.”

Guy Bentley, director of consumer freedom at the Reason Foundation (which publishes Reason), notes that the FDA, which seems determined to ban flavored vaping products because teenagers like them, acknowledges the gap between public perception and the scientific evidence. “I’m fully aware of the misperceptions that are out there and aren’t consistent with the known science,” Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told the Associated Press last month. “We do know that e-cigarettes, as a general class, have markedly less risk than a combustible cigarette product. That said, I think it’s very critical that we inform any communication campaigns using science and evidence. It has to be very carefully thought out to ensure that we’re maximizing impact and avoiding unintended consequences.”

The caveat that King added suggests that the FDA is reluctant to speak plainly about vaping because that might weaken the “impact” of its messaging and cause “unintended consequences.” In other words, forthrightly acknowledging that vaping is much less dangerous than smoking might encourage e-cigarette use by teenagers or adult nonsmokers. The CDC is so worried about that risk that it actively reinforces the “misperceptions” that King acknowledges without regard to the impact on public health. As far as the CDC is concerned, Americans can’t handle the truth.

Balfour et al. warned that “policies intended to restrict e-cigarette use may have unintentionally increased cigarette smoking.” They noted evidence that e-cigarette taxes and restrictions on sales have had that perverse effect, and they suggested that the same could be true of limits on flavor variety. “While flavor bans could reduce youth interest in e-cigarettes, they could also reduce adult smokers’ vaping to quit smoking,” they wrote. “Like youths, adults prefer nontobacco flavors, both groups favoring fruit and sweet flavors.”

The government’s anti-vaping propaganda is likewise a menace to public health. Rational consumer decisions depend on accurate and honest information, which is the opposite of what the CDC offers.

The post New Survey Data Show Adolescent Vaping Remains Far Less Common Than It Was a Few Years Ago appeared first on Reason.com.

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Biden’s Marijuana Reforms Are Long Overdue but Will Have Just a Modest Impact


Joe Biden

The marijuana reforms that President Joe Biden announced today follow through on some of the promises that he made during his campaign, but they will have a limited practical impact. His blanket pardon for low-level marijuana offenders, while long overdue, will affect a tiny percentage of people with federal drug records. Without new legislation, marijuana use will remain a crime under federal law, as will growing and selling marijuana. And while rescheduling marijuana will make medical research easier, it will not make cannabis legally available to patients unless and until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves specific products as safe and effective.

“I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period,” Biden said during a November 2019 presidential debate. “And I think…anyone who has a record should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out….Everybody gets out, record expunged.” He later qualified that broad language, suggesting his concern was limited to marijuana users charged with simple possession, who are rarely prosecuted under federal law. Today’s announcement fits that narrower focus.

Biden said he is pardoning “all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who committed the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.” He said the blanket pardon would help “thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession” and “who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result.” While “white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates,” he noted, “Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

Biden’s concern about the ancillary penalties associated with marijuana convictions and the racially disproportionate impact of the war on weed are welcome. So is his willingness to use his plenary clemency powers to address those problems. But nearly all low-level marijuana cases are prosecuted under state law, and his pardons will have no impact on those. Biden urged governors to “pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses,” which would have a much broader effect but depends on their discretion.

To put the impact of Biden’s pardon in perspective, about 400,000 people are currently incarcerated for drug offenses in the United States, including about 67,000 federal prisoners. During the last two decades, police typically made between 1.5 million and 1.9 million drug arrests every year. In recent years, marijuana arrests have accounted for more than a third of the total, and the vast majority of those cases (92 percent in 2019) involved possession rather than cultivation or trafficking.

Although Biden said “we should decriminalize marijuana,” he does not have the authority to do that on his own. Despite his pardon, simple marijuana possession is still punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail under the Controlled Substances Act. Growing or selling marijuana are still federal felonies, which creates an untenable conflict with state laws that allow medical or recreational use. Cannabis consumers who own guns likewise are still subject to stiff prison sentences—a policy the Biden administration is defending in court.

Biden, who has long opposed efforts to repeal federal marijuana prohibition, made it clear today that he does not favor eliminating criminal penalties for growing or selling pot. His pardon announcement says “no language herein shall be construed to pardon any person for any other offense, including possession of other controlled substances, whether committed prior, subsequent, or contemporaneous to the pardoned offense of simple possession of marijuana.”

The moral logic of Biden’s distinction between simple possession and other marijuana offenses is hard to follow. He says using marijuana should not be treated as a crime. If so, how can helping people use marijuana justify sending anyone to prison? And why should people convicted of assisting cannabis consumption be saddled with felony records for the rest of their lives?

Biden did say “it makes no sense” to “classify marijuana at the same level as heroin.” Both drugs are included in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a category supposedly reserved for substances with a high abuse potential that have no accepted medical use and cannot be used safely even under a doctor’s supervision. Biden noted that even fentanyl, black-market versions of which are implicated in two-thirds of drug-related deaths, is less strictly regulated than marijuana, because the federal government recognizes that it has legitimate medical applications.

Biden said he has asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to “initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.” That administrative process is apt to take a while, and its consequences are uncertain.

Removing marijuana from Schedule I would require changing the criteria that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) historically has applied in determining whether marijuana has a “currently accepted medical use.” The DEA has long demanded the sort of evidence that would be required to win FDA approval for a new drug. The DEA’s critics, meanwhile, have long complained that keeping marijuana in Schedule I makes it harder to conduct the research necessary to satisfy that requirement.

Rescheduling marijuana would eliminate the research barriers that are unique to Schedule I. But by itself, it would not make cannabis available as a prescription drug, which would require FDA approval of a specific application. So far, the FDA has approved synthetic THC as an anti-nausea medication and cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy. Except for the latter, it has never approved a cannabis-derived medicine.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden said today. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.” Given the narrow reach of the policies he just announced, which leave marijuana prohibition untouched, do not allow even medical use, and keep marijuana growers and distributors in prison, his reforms represent only a modest step in that direction.

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Biden Is Still Seeking Potential Life Sentences for Distributing Weed, Even As He Pardons for Possession


Jonathan Wall and Joe Biden

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he is pardoning every U.S. citizen and lawful resident convicted in federal court of simple marijuana possession. That is a very fortunate announcement for the several thousand people convicted at the federal level of simple possession, but it still leaves thousands of other federal cannabis offenders facing draconian sentences for larger quantities.

Consider, for example, that just months ago, Biden’s Department of Justice successfully prosecuted a man named Jonathan Wall and sought 10 years to life in prison for the crime of conspiracy to distribute cannabis. While Biden deserves praise for pardoning people no longer imprisoned, it is important to remember that he is extending that olive branch while insisting that the people who sold them marijuana should be caged for decades.

“It remains deeply disturbing,” Jason Flores-Williams, who represented Wall in court until the conclusion of his trial in May, tells Reason. “While we’re glad that the president is pardoning people for pot possession, really what needs to happen is the decriminalization or total legalization of marijuana so that people like my current clients and people who I’ve represented don’t spend any time of their short precious lives incarcerated in a cage for a plant that I can go buy around the corner.”

Flores-Williams notes that he still represents several people accused of marijuana distribution. The disconnect between possession and distribution got even wider today, as those charged with the latter will continue to face prison terms exceeding those served by defendants convicted of rape, assault, and various types of homicide.

“This is not a case about marijuana possession,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anatoly Smolkin said during Wall’s trial. “This is a case about a drug conspiracy to distribute massive amounts of marijuana around the country.” If possession should not be a crime, why are we caging people who help others secure access to cannabis?

These days, many consumers buy cannabis legally, including at the brick-and-mortar stores popping up in cities around the U.S., where it is legal at the state and local levels but still federally prohibited. Wall is no worse a violator of federal law than the cannabis businesses located just a mile or so from the White House in D.C., and no worse a person than the people who Biden now insists should never have been incarcerated in the first place. After his conviction, he now faces a minimum of a decade behind bars.

“He’s trying to adopt the most politically expedient by which this can somehow be done without fully being done,” says Flores-Williams. “Federal prohibition of marijuana has been a mistake from day one. Too many people have suffered, and right now the penalties are so radically diverse and unjust.” As of today, that gap just broadened.

The post Biden Is Still Seeking Potential Life Sentences for Distributing Weed, Even As He Pardons for Possession appeared first on Reason.com.

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Biden’s Marijuana Reforms Are Long Overdue but Will Have Just a Modest Impact


Joe Biden

The marijuana reforms that President Joe Biden announced today follow through on some of the promises that he made during his campaign, but they will have a limited practical impact. His blanket pardon for low-level marijuana offenders, while long overdue, will affect a tiny percentage of people with federal drug records. Without new legislation, marijuana use will remain a crime under federal law, as will growing and selling marijuana. And while rescheduling marijuana will make medical research easier, it will not make cannabis legally available to patients unless and until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves specific products as safe and effective.

“I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period,” Biden said during a November 2019 presidential debate. “And I think…anyone who has a record should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out….Everybody gets out, record expunged.” He later qualified that broad language, suggesting his concern was limited to marijuana users charged with simple possession, who are rarely prosecuted under federal law. Today’s announcement fits that narrower focus.

Biden said he is pardoning “all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who committed the offense of simple possession of marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.” He said the blanket pardon would help “thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession” and “who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result.” While “white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates,” he noted, “Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

Biden’s concern about the ancillary penalties associated with marijuana convictions and the racially disproportionate impact of the war on weed are welcome. So is his willingness to use his plenary clemency powers to address those problems. But nearly all low-level marijuana cases are prosecuted under state law, and his pardons will have no impact on those. Biden urged governors to “pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses,” which would have a much broader effect but depends on their discretion.

To put the impact of Biden’s pardon in perspective, about 400,000 people are currently incarcerated for drug offenses in the United States, including about 67,000 federal prisoners. During the last two decades, police typically made between 1.5 million and 1.9 million drug arrests every year. In recent years, marijuana arrests have accounted for more than a third of the total, and the vast majority of those cases (92 percent in 2019) involved possession rather than cultivation or trafficking.

Although Biden said “we should decriminalize marijuana,” he does not have the authority to do that on his own. Despite his pardon, simple marijuana possession is still punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail under the Controlled Substances Act. Growing or selling marijuana are still federal felonies, which creates an untenable conflict with state laws that allow medical or recreational use. Cannabis consumers who own guns likewise are still subject to stiff prison sentences—a policy the Biden administration is defending in court.

Biden, who has long opposed efforts to repeal federal marijuana prohibition, made it clear today that he does not favor eliminating criminal penalties for growing or selling pot. His pardon announcement says “no language herein shall be construed to pardon any person for any other offense, including possession of other controlled substances, whether committed prior, subsequent, or contemporaneous to the pardoned offense of simple possession of marijuana.”

The moral logic of Biden’s distinction between simple possession and other marijuana offenses is hard to follow. He says using marijuana should not be treated as a crime. If so, how can helping people use marijuana justify sending anyone to prison? And why should people convicted of assisting cannabis consumption be saddled with felony records for the rest of their lives?

Biden did say “it makes no sense” to “classify marijuana at the same level as heroin.” Both drugs are included in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a category supposedly reserved for substances with a high abuse potential that have no accepted medical use and cannot be used safely even under a doctor’s supervision. Biden noted that even fentanyl, black-market versions of which are implicated in two-thirds of drug-related deaths, is less strictly regulated than marijuana, because the federal government recognizes that it has legitimate medical applications.

Biden said he has asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to “initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.” That administrative process is apt to take a while, and its consequences are uncertain.

Removing marijuana from Schedule I would require changing the criteria that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) historically has applied in determining whether marijuana has a “currently accepted medical use.” The DEA has long demanded the sort of evidence that would be required to win FDA approval for a new drug. The DEA’s critics, meanwhile, have long complained that keeping marijuana in Schedule I makes it harder to conduct the research necessary to satisfy that requirement.

Rescheduling marijuana would eliminate the research barriers that are unique to Schedule I. But by itself, it would not make cannabis available as a prescription drug, which would require FDA approval of a specific application. So far, the FDA has approved synthetic THC as an anti-nausea medication and cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy. Except for the latter, it has never approved a cannabis-derived medicine.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden said today. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.” Given the narrow reach of the policies he just announced, which leave marijuana prohibition untouched, do not allow even medical use, and keep marijuana growers and distributors in prison, his reforms represent only a modest step in that direction.

The post Biden's Marijuana Reforms Are Long Overdue but Will Have Just a Modest Impact appeared first on Reason.com.

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Washington Gave $28M To Chinese Entities For Joint Research Since 2015: Report

Washington Gave $28M To Chinese Entities For Joint Research Since 2015: Report

Authored by Rita Li via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Recently released findings show U.S. government agencies sent over $28 million in taxpayers’ dollars “directly to Chinese entities” for joint research over a five-year period ending 2021.

A technician works at a DNA tech lab in Beijing on Aug. 22, 2018. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

From fiscal years 2015 through 2021, “the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], NIH [National Institutes of Health], and DOD [Department of Defense] provided 22 awards totaling $28.9 million directly to Chinese entities including universities and other research institutions,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said on Sept. 29 following a trove of analyses.

Researchers found the federal funding focused on “multiple scientific disciplines,” aiding Chinese entities in conducting research on “disease surveillance, vaccination studies, and the development of new drugs,” as well as “alternative technologies to propel vehicles such as drones.”

The release of its 38-page report (pdf) follows a January request from House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They asked GAO to review federal funds provided to China or entities controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for collaborative research, and U.S. contributions to multilateral institutions.

Stefanik described such funding as “troubling.”

“China’s deception and stonewalling of the truth behind the origins of COVID-19 has led to millions of senseless deaths and trillions of dollars in economic destruction across the globe,” the congresswoman said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

The three agencies awarded a total of 13 Chinese entities for joint publications, information sharing, and workshops, while 84 percent of the direct funding went to the University of Hong Kong, Peking University, and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, known as the Chinese CDC.

Receiving almost $5 million from the NIH and the CDC over the past years, the Chinese CDC had been suppressing information about the outbreak domestically and snubbed U.S. offers of assistance, despite how any health data would have been crucial to formulate a more effective COVID-19 containment strategy and minimize the disease’s global spread.

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment walk on a street in a neighborhood during a COVID-19 lockdown in the Jing’an district in Shanghai on April 8, 2022. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

“Even more frightening,” Stefanik continued, “we still have no idea how much total money has been sent to China due to lax reporting requirements. Make no mistake, the Chinese Communist Party’s deception throughout the pandemic confirmed that China is not a reliable partner.”

Read more here…

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 17:40

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Democrat-Led Texas Border Town Busses Migrants To New York

Democrat-Led Texas Border Town Busses Migrants To New York

While the media has fixated on Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s controversial one-way bus ticket program for migrants to sanctuary cities like New York City and Chicago, there has been little press about one Democrat-led border city doing the same. 

Source: Daily Mail

El Paso, Texas, Mayor Oscar Leeser, a Democrat, uses Abbott’s bus strategy as the surge of migrants crossing the southern border has sent the region into crisis. The federal government’s failure, i.e., the Biden administration, left Leeser with no other option as an influx of illegals stained his city’s finances.

At least 7,000 migrants have been bussed from El Paso to New York City since late August and 1,800 to Chicago, Reuters reported. However, Leeser’s bussing has garnered less media attention than Abbott’s, who is seeking reelection in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Perhaps the bias in the liberal mainstream press is very obvious. 

Reuters makes clear El Paso’s bussing of migrants to sanctionary cities is entirely different than Abbott’s as the media outlet interviewed New York City mayoral spokesperson Kate Smart who said Leeser’s staff informs New York when a bus is en route rather than surprised migrant busloads from the governor. 

And, of course, that’s the spin — but in the end, a busload of migrants is still a busload of migrants, no matter what political affiliation. 

Reuters also made sure to include a quote from Lesser, who said his migrant busloads to cities in the US are “completely different.” And why is that, the mayor explained: we “treat people with respect.”… Really? 

If it’s Abbott or Leeser, migrants are still being wrangled up like cattle and stuffed into buses. Even though Leeser’s bus program has gained little attention, there’s undoubtedly a biased press that paints Abbot’s bussing as evil. 

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 17:20

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The Assassination Of Equibit

The Assassination Of Equibit

Via BombThrower.com,

Originally published on August 29, 2022 here. It continues to be updated as events progress.

My name is Chris Horlacher. From 2015 to 2019 I ran a federally recognized and subsidized scientific research and development company out of Toronto called Equibit Group. After finally reaching a multimillion dollar valuation through years of work, and with eager customers lining up to use our technology, our company was quite suddenly and inexplicably shattered.

Critical portions of our company’s work and research were stolen or destroyed, attempts were made to frame us for securities fraud, and my wife and I were harassed by the Canadian government for nearly 2 years.

This is our story:

With the invention of cryptocurrency after the shakeup of the 2008 worldwide financial crisis, Equibit saw an opportunity to greatly simplify securities trading and reduce users reliance on the large financial institutions who’d been a major point of failure in 2008 and who, from investors perspective, presented an enormous risk to their assets. Our team invested in the creation of the world’s first decentralized, blockchain-based, securities registration and communications system. This technology was, and still is, absolutely cutting edge. Our wallet could even perform cross-chain atomic swaps without ever leaving the application, a technological feat that has still never been replicated.

Had Equibit continued, it would have reduced costs and errors associated with settlements and investor communications. In plain English, this would have quickly replaced traditional financial sector methods for trading securities by being vastly more efficient and by cutting out several layers of middlemen. We were poised to completely disrupt the securities transfer agent and custodian sector, an industry which costs investors and issuers over $10 billion per year, processing quadrillions of dollars worth of transactions annually. As a long term industry insider, most recently as CFO of the Canadian-based arm of an international securities broker-dealer, I knew very well the enormous amount of waste involved in this dark corner of the industry. With our extensive credentials and the success of our technological development, private equity groups couldn’t wait to use our platform, and those who interestedly met with us collectively managed trillions of dollars.

In December 2016, as part of our legal preparation for launching the Equibit platform, we engaged a law firm to investigate Equibit and prepare an analysis regarding EQB’s, our blockchain’s native cryptocurrency, potential status as a security. After extensive investigation into the details of Equibit, lawyers from Davies, Ward, Philips & Vineberg, the top securities law firm in the country, arrived at the conclusion that Equibit’s cryptocurrency was not a security under the Pacific Coin test, basically the same thing as the US Howey test. We then sought the perspective of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) on the Equibit technology we had developed thus far. In order to continue moving forward, we voluntarily requested a determination from OSC as to whether they thought Equibit’s native cryptocurrency (EQB) was a security. I was encouraged by the OSC Launchpad leader, Pat Chaukos, to “keep going” with our work. Similarly, OSC Launchpad attorney Amy Tsai referred us back to our own counsel for any questions about securities law. As our attorneys had advised us that EQB would not be considered a security under the law, we moved forward and began a sale of pre-mined EQB’s, which is the traditional method of funding new protocol development.

Beginning in early 2017, we suddenly experienced a full-scale assault by the OSC. After starting a sale of pre-mined EQBs (“Equibits”), we were dragged into OSC offices and interrogated based solely on an “anonymous” tip (i.e., from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service). Ignoring all previous discussion and determinations, OSC proceeded unilaterally with a quasi-enforcement procedure (and later, an actual enforcement procedure complete with secret gag orders) to stop sales of EQB. We fully complied with them, of course, and continued to communicate with OSC in support of our project – including sending them the nine page expert opinion from Davies, Ward, Philips & Vineberg. After some prodding, the OSC ultimately acknowledged to us that they had never even bothered to read any of our offering documents before acting. Even after receiving the expert opinion, which they took months before acknowledging, they simply dismissed it without explanation or reasoning. This was despite overwhelming support for our assessment across the international regulatory community.

Though incredibly hostile toward us, the meetings did eventually conclude with OSC telling us – on the record – to go ahead and complete our sale of the pre-mined EQB’s. Regardless, from that point onward the OSC’s behavior towards the company, my wife and myself became crude, deceitful, and malicious. All my interactions with OSC are documented in detail in an internal company memo originally published in early 2018 and continuously updated with ongoing details until the end of 2019.

It is now well known amongst lawyers across Ontario that Launchpad has been engaged in a systematic entrapment scheme, devastating every company that has come through their doors. They are single-handedly responsible for the dearth of quality companies in the crypto industry throughout Canada – a country that has had every opportunity to emerge as a global leader in the cryptocurrency space. Not only have they stood firmly in the way of legitimate developers, but the OSC stood idly by and did nothing while well-known frauds like BitConnect were being reported to them. To their credit, they eventually did issue a warning to investors some three months after the BitConnect ponzi-scheme had already collapsed.

In mid-2018 our lead developer suddenly disappeared for two weeks. When he returned, he informed us that he’d been hauled down to CSIS’s offices and interrogated for hours by two agents that he refused to identify to us. According to him, CSIS was intimately aware of internal, non-public details regarding Equibit’s technology, and induced him to reveal additional details regarding the company by leveraging his desire to become a Canadian citizen (he was a Russian immigrant). After revealing this to us, he said he had been granted Canadian citizenship and stunningly requested a promotion to the company’s “inner circle”. Then, just days later, he inexplicably resigned from Equibit, deleted the sole copy of Equibit’s most recent code, and ceased all communications with us.

As you can imagine, not only was this devastating to the project, it had a deeply chilling effect on the entire team. However, we were determined to press on. Without the ability to continue in Canada, my wife and I picked up everything and moved to Switzerland to try to save the company. We were welcomed with open arms by the Swiss, and Equibit received a “no-action” letter from their securities regulator – essentially a written confirmation that we were free to operate as planned without registration or oversight by them. They agreed that EQB was not a security, and affirmed that Equibit’s activities were not of a nature requiring reporting to or oversight by financial regulators, confirming we could continue unabated with the sale in order to fund and finalize development of the protocol. Unfortunately, after several hundred thousand dollars in costs dealing with OSC, the loss of critical portions of our code, and with the sudden collapse of crypto markets in late 2018, Equibit had become impossible to salvage.

Around this same time, while attending World Crypto Con in November 2018, my wife was attacked and drugged by two men who were witnessed (and thankfully prevented from) attempting to kidnap her. I have positively identified the two men as Australian nationals Rev Nissan, a so-called “crypto influencer” who posts a lot of “not investment advice” shilling – and profiting from – high risk crypto investments, and Azzam Elterekmani, who Rev introduced as his “cousin”. I suspect they may have been acting as Australian agents for the Five Eyes network (which only gained the pretense of oversight in 2017), as they routinely drug and even rape their targets.

We also personally know of at least two additional people who were drugged at the same conference, and it stands to reason that World Crypto Con 2018 was a hotbed of espionage activity. It was shortly after this incident that I also experienced a SIM-swap attack – which is a sophisticated, targeted attack used to intercept someone’s phone calls and messages. Fortunately, I had already taken measures to protect myself against these kinds of attacks (never, ever use SMS-based 2 factor authentication!) and so the damage was very limited. This attack was followed on July 3, 2021 by an attempt to steal my time-based one-time-password tokens out of Authy, a service that stores these encrypted tokens on their servers. Again, and fortunately, I do not actually use the Authy service and only registered for it. So, no damages were suffered.

With the failure of the company all but assured, in mid-February 2019 we decided to move from Switzerland back home to Canada. Upon our arrival, we were singled out and searched by airport customs. Despite being some of the only actual Canadian citizens on this flight, we were the only people out of an entire plane load of mostly non-Canadians to receive this enhanced screening. It was obvious that we had been flagged by Canadian authorities for unknown reasons. At the end of a thorough but ultimately fruitless search, the embarrassed customs agent proclaimed “Not everyone is as honest as you.”

I spent the next few months winding up the company, paying our vendors and severance to employees, and doing my best to mitigate any more losses. We had been destroyed by our own government for the “crime” of trying to do something innovative and positive. It took many months to heal from my depression and get back on my feet, and in 2020 and 2021 I filed several lawsuits against CSIS and the perpetrators of this travesty. I knew I would be surveilled and attacked again, so I created a trap for them within my home network (a honeypot named “Equibit-DEV”) to test my theory. Immediately after filing my lawsuits, someone began breaking into my home network and hit the honeypot I had set up for them several times. They also tried hacking my contact lists to figure out who I was talking to. Just so you know, your Bell and Roger’s gateways are back doors for the government to snoop on your entire network. That’s why they insist you use them instead of your own router.

It’s worth mentioning that, on Edward Snowden’s recommendation, I reached out to Citizen Lab, a group of IT security specialists holding themselves out as aid for activists and journalists targeted by corrupt states, via email with my situation and asked for their help. Though my email was forwarded multiple times internally, and I have the DMARC reports and read receipts to prove it, I received no response nor even an acknowledgment of my email. One by one I reached out to their entire team and received the same wall of silence. The Canada-based Citizen Labs wanted nothing to do with a Canadian citizen targeted by Canada’s government.

I also served ATIP requests on CSIS for everything they had on me and my company, which were, tellingly, refused on national security grounds. When I complained to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the OIC first attempted to elicit privileged information from my case against CSIS and then simply dismissed my complaint with no consideration given to its actual substance.

In the meantime the CSIS saboteur I had charged, Sergei Sachkov, defaulted on his obligation to file a statement of defense – meaning that, legally, they have admitted to the truth of all my allegations. The government similarly defaulted on filing its defense, but eventually filed, nearly a year after it was due, an entirely inappropriate two-page denial of any knowledge of the events I alleged. So much for the right to a speedy and fair trial in Canada.

At the end of 2018, as my company was crumbling, CSIS director David Vigneault had the nerve to unironically deliver a speech to the Economic Club of Canada warning their members about industrial espionage. He also said “accountability is at the center of everything we do”, which strikes me as utterly hypocritical coming from the head of an organization that is exempted from key sections of the Criminal Code, been caught repeatedly lying to judges in order to obtain warrants, destroying evidence a court ordered them to produce, destroying a file on Pierre Trudeau that was about to fall into public hands, engaging in illegal data collection and retention, and is generally known as a cesspool of racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry. Most recently they have even been implicated in a case of child trafficking involving three girls, two of whom are now dead. The third is being held in a Syrian rape camp and her three children (ostensibly all from rape) are also now all dead.

Even though CSIS’s own terrorist reporting system provides no indication that cryptocurrencies are being used by terrorists, which is confirmed by a 33-year CIA veteran’s detailed analysis as well as my own ATIP requests on that matter, the people at CSIS, OSC, and other agencies within the Canadian government still proceed under the assumption that cryptocurrency developers are de-facto criminals who must be stopped at all costs. They would love nothing more than for you to believe it is something put forth only by misfits and miscreants. My own resume says differently.

I believe CSIS intended to turn Equibit Group into another debacle used to scare the public away from cryptocurrencies – something they are terrified of. The intelligence community is heavily reliant on financial surveillance and, in return for government protection of the industry (cartelization, bailouts, and direct subsidies), requires financial institutions to act essentially as an arm of the government in data collection, enforcement, and suppression.

The acts described above are the subject of two active lawsuits, together covering over $140 million in damages, which have been filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (File #: CV-20-00645492-0000 and CV-21-00654929-0000). One of the key defendants, former Equibit employee Christian Saucier, is still at large and we have been unable to locate him even after employing the services of professional investigators. The investigators are unanimously of the opinion that he is being concealed by powerful interests.

Despite my best efforts to get ANY attention on these events, all media and political actors have consistently refused to look at anything related to this case. For example, Pierre Poilievre recently expressed views that he was favorable towards the cryptocurrency industry, claiming he wants to make Canada the “blockchain capital of the world”. This is a lie. Pierre’s office is aware of my situation and has told me in writing that they will say nothing and do nothing. Equibit could have been one of the premier blockchain companies in Canada, even the world. But Pierre and other establishment fixtures will do nothing for us – nor, ultimately, for anyone else in our industry. It is up to us alone to ensure the rest of the world knows what happened, what is happening, and what will continue to happen if we don’t make a change.

In the past I had been interviewed and published by leading media outlets, including American BankerCBCBNNBloombergForbes, and The Globe and Mail, and had spoken before large audiences at countless prominent industry events since 2014. Now no one wants to hear this story, my story. Remember the immortal words of Desmond Tutu,

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

During the darkest moments of this whole experience, I was blessed with two amazing children. I had expected to raise them in a world made better by blockchain, cryptocurrency, and Equibit. Instead I have been given the challenge of explaining to them just what kind of world they actually live in and I can only hope they will have the strength to make it in such an environment. I wish I could tell them to follow their dreams, and that with hard work they will be free to make a lasting contribution to humanity – but look where that got Equibit and all the people who believed in our vision of the future. We live in a world where the successful “innovators” of our time are only in those positions because they were placed there by even more powerful interests who don’t want their boat rocked. Anyone building things that can truly upset the status quo are quickly eliminated, their stories buried, and the world goes on never knowing what could have been.

So I’m asking for your help. Please, forward this story to your email lists. Post it to your forums and blogs. Write about it. If you know where Christian Saucier is, tell me. I am giving this information away freely and if you think you can help, write to me (PGP). If you are in a similar situation, let’s join forces. Make it impossible for the world to ignore what the Trudeau regime and the disgusting Western espionage alliance (Five Eyes) are doing to activists, entrepreneurs, and innovators the world over.

*  *  *

Update 09/01/2022 – Last night, without any warning, Telegram deleted the account and banned the phone number that I had been using to distribute this story for the last few days. The account was registered using a phone number that was not tied to my identity (it was a friend’s number), meaning it was the information itself that prompted the account deletion.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 10/06/2022 – 17:00

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