Webb: This Biden Proposal Could Make The US A “Digital Dictatorship”

Webb: This Biden Proposal Could Make The US A “Digital Dictatorship”

Authored by Whitney Webb via UnlimitedHangout.com,

A “new” proposal by the Biden administration to create a health-focused federal agency modeled after DARPA is not what it appears to be. Promoted as a way to “end cancer,” this resuscitated “health DARPA” conceals a dangerous agenda.

Oura Ring biometric tracker.

Last Wednesday, President Biden was widely praised in mainstream and health-care–focused media for his call to create a “new biomedical research agency” modeled after the US military’s “high-risk, high-reward” Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. As touted by the president, the agency would seek to develop “innovative” and “breakthrough” treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, with a call to “end cancer as we know it.”  

Far from “ending cancer” in the way most Americans might envision it, the proposed agency would merge “national security” with “health security” in such as way as to use both physical and mental health “warning signs” to prevent outbreaks of disease or violence before they occur. Such a system is a recipe for a technocratic “pre-crime” organization with the potential to criminalize both mental and physical illness as well as “wrongthink.”

The Biden administration has asked Congress for $6.5 billion to fund the agency, which would be largely guided by Biden’s recently confirmed top science adviser, Eric Lander. Lander, formerly the head of the Silicon Valley–dominated Broad Institute, has been controversial for his ties to eugenicist and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and his relatively recent praise for James Watson, an overtly racist eugenicist. Despite that, Lander is set to be confirmed by the Senate and Congress and is reportedly significantly enthusiastic about the proposed new “health DARPA.”

This new agency, set to be called ARPA-H or HARPA, would be housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and would raise the NIH budget to over $51 billion. Unlike other agencies at NIH, ARPA-H would differ in that the projects it funds would not be peer reviewed prior to approval; instead hand-picked program managers would make all funding decisions. Funding would also take the form of milestone-driven payments instead of the more traditional multiyear grants.

ARPA-H will likely heavily fund and promote mRNA vaccines as one of the “breakthroughs” that will cure cancer. Some of the mRNA vaccine manufacturers that have produced some of the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, stated just last month that “cancer is the next problem to tackle with mRNA tech” post-COVID. BioNTech has been developing mRNA gene therapies for cancer for years and is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create mRNA-based treatments for tuberculosis and HIV.

Other “innovative” technologies that will be a focus of this agency are less well known to the public and arguably more concerning.

The Long Road to ARPA-H

ARPA-H is not a new and exclusive Biden administration idea; there was a previous attempt to create a “health DARPA” during the Trump administration in late 2019. Biden began to promote the idea during his presidential campaign as early as June 2019, albeit using a very different justification for the agency than what had been pitched by its advocates to Trump. In 2019, the same foundation and individuals currently backing Biden’s ARPA-H had urged then president Trump to create “HARPA,” not for the main purpose of researching treatments for cancer and Alzheimer’s, but to stop mass shootings before they happen through the monitoring of Americans for “neuropsychiatric” warning signs.

Still from HARPA’s video “The Patients Are Waiting: How HARPA Will Change Lives Now”, Source: http://harpa.org

For the last few years, one man has been the driving force behind HARPA—former vice chair of General Electric and former president of NBCUniversal, Robert Wright. Through the Suzanne Wright Foundation (named for his late wife), Wright has spent years lobbying for an agency that “would develop biomedical capabilities—detection tools, treatments, medical devices, cures, etc.—for the millions of Americans who are not benefitting from the current system.” While he, like Biden, has cloaked the agency’s actual purpose by claiming it will be mainly focused on treating cancer, Wright’s 2019 proposal to his personal friend Donald Trump revealed its underlying ambitions.

As first proposed by Wright in 2019, the flagship program of HARPA would be SAFE HOME, short for Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes. SAFE HOME would suck up masses of private data from “Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo, and Google Home” and other consumer electronic devices, as well as information from health-care providers to determine if an individual might be likely to commit a crime. The data would be analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms “for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence.”

The Department of Justice’s pre-crime approach known as DEEP was activated just months before Trump left office; it was also justified as a way to “stop mass shootings before they happen.” Soon after Biden’s inauguration, the new administration began using information from social media to make pre-crime arrests as part of its approach toward combatting “domestic terror.” Given the history of Silicon Valley companies collaborating with the government on matters of warrantless surveillance, it appears that aspects of SAFE HOME may already be covertly active under Biden, only waiting for the formalization of ARPA-H/HARPA to be legitimized as public policy. 

The national-security applications of Robert Wright’s HARPA are also illustrated by the man who was its lead scientific adviser—former head of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office Geoffrey Ling. Not only is Ling the main scientific adviser of HARPA, but the original proposal by Wright would have Ling both personally design HARPA and lead it once it was established. Ling’s work at DARPA can be summarized by BTO’s stated mission, which is to work toward merging “biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security.” BTO-favored technologies are also poised to be the mainstays of HARPA, which plans to specifically use “advancements in biotechnology, supercomputing, big data, and artificial intelligence” to accomplish its goals.

The direct DARPA connection to HARPA underscores that the agenda behind this coming agency dates back to the failed Bio-Surveillance project of DARPA’s Total Information Awareness program, which was launched after the events of September 11, 2001. TIA’s Bio-Surveillance project sought to develop the “necessary information technologies and resulting prototype capable of detecting the covert release of a biological pathogen automatically, and significantly earlier than traditional approaches,” accomplishing this “by monitoring non-traditional data sources” including “pre-diagnostic medical data” and “behavioral indicators.” 

While nominally focused on “bioterrorist attacks,” TIA’s Bio-Surveillance project also sought to acquire early detection capabilities for “normal” disease outbreaks. Bio-Surveillance and related DARPA projects at the time, such as LifeLog, sought to harvest data through the mass use of some sort of wearable or handheld technology. These DARPA programs were ultimately shut down due to the controversy over claims they would be used to profile domestic dissidents and eliminate privacy for all Americans in the US. 

That DARPA’s past total surveillance dragnet is coming back to life under a supposedly separate health-focused agency, and one that emulates its organizational model no less, confirms that many TIA-related programs were merely distanced from the Department of Defense when officially shut down. By separating the military from the public image of such technologies and programs, it made them more palatable to the masses, despite the military remaining heavily involved behind the scenes. As Unlimited Hangout has recently reported, major aspects of TIA were merely privatized, giving rise to companies such as Facebook and Palantir, which resulted in such DARPA projects being widely used and accepted. Now, under the guise of the proposed ARPA-H, DARPA’s original TIA would essentially be making a comeback for all intents and purposes as its own spin-off.

Silicon Valley, the Military and the Wearable “Revolution” 

This most recent effort to create ARPA-H/HARPA combines well with the coordinated push of Silicon Valley companies into the field of health care, specifically Silicon Valley companies that double as contractors to US intelligence and/or the military (e.g., Microsoft, Google, and Amazon). During the COVID-19 crisis, this trend toward Silicon Valley dominance of the health-care sector has accelerated considerably due to a top-down push toward digitalization with telemedicine, remote monitoring, and the like. 

One interesting example is Amazon, which launched a wearable last year that purports to not only use biometrics to monitor people’s physical health and fitness but to track their emotional state as well. The previous year, Amazon acquired the online pharmacy PillPack, and it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which data from Amazon’s Halo wellness band is used to offer treatment recommendations that are then supplied by Amazon-owned PillPack.

Companies such as Amazon, Palantir, and Google are set to be intimately involved in ARPA-H’s activities. In particular, Google, which launched numerous health-tech initiatives in 2020, is set to have a major role in this new agency due to its long-standing ties to the Obama administration when Biden was vice president and to President Biden’s top science adviser, Eric Lander.

As mentioned, Lander is poised to play a major role in ARPA-H/HARPA if and when it materializes. Before becoming the top scientist in the country, Lander was president and founding director of the Broad Institute. While advertised as a partnership between MIT and Harvard, the Broad Institute is heavily influenced by Silicon Valley, with two former Google executives on its board, a partner of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Greylock Partners, and the former CEO of IBM, as well as some of its top endowments coming from prominent tech executives. 

The Broad Institute, Source: https://www.broadinstitute.org

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who was intimately involved with Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and who is close to the Democratic Party in general, chairs the Broad Institute as of this April. In March, Schmidt gave the institute $150 million to “connect biology and machine learning for understanding programs of life.” During his time on the Broad Institute board, Schmidt also chaired the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, a group of mostly Silicon Valley, intelligence, and military operatives who have now charted the direction of the US government’s policies on emerging tech and AI. Schmidt was also pitched as potential head of a tech-industry task force by the Biden administration.

Earlier, in January, the Broad Institute announced that its health-research platform, Terra, which was built with Google subsidiary Verily, would partner with Microsoft. As a result, Terra now allows Google and Microsoft to access a vast trove of genomic data that is poured into the platform by academics and research institutions from around the world.

In addition, last September, Google teamed up with the Department of Defense as part of a new AI-driven “predictive health” program that also has links to the US intelligence community. While initially focused on predicting cancer cases, this initiative clearly plans to expand to predicting the onset of other diseases before symptoms appear, including COVID-19. As noted by Unlimited Hangout at the time, one of the ulterior motives for the program, from Google’s perspective, was for Google to gain access to “the largest repository of disease- and cancer-related medical data in the world,” which is held by the Defense Health Agency. Having exclusive access to this data is a huge boon for Google in its effort to develop and expand its growing suite of AI health-care products.

The military is currently being used to pilot COVID-19–related biometric wearables for “returning to work safely.” Last December, it was announced that Hill Air Force Base in Utah would make biometric wearables a mandatory part of the uniform for some squadrons. For example, the airmen of the Air Force’s 649th Munitions Squadron must now wear a smart watch made by Garmin and a smart ring made by Oura as part of their uniform. 

According to the Air Force, these devices detect biometric indicators that are then analyzed for 165 different biomarkers by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency/Philips Healthcare AI algorithm that “attempts to recognize an infection or virus around 48 hours before the onset of symptoms.” The development of that algorithm began well before the COVID-19 crisis and is a recent iteration of a series of military research projects that appear to have begun under the 2007 DARPA Predicting Health and Disease (PHD) project.

While of interest to the military, these wearables are primarily intended for mass use—a big step toward the infrastructure needed for the resurrection of a bio-surveillance program to be run by the national-security state. Starting first with the military makes sense from the national-security apparatus’s perspective, as the ability to monitor biometric data, including emotions, has obvious appeal for those managing the recently expanded “insider threat” programs in the military and the Department of Homeland Security.

One indicator of the push for mass use is that the same Oura smart ring being used by the Air Force was also recently utilized by the NBA to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks among basketball players. Prior to COVID-19, it was promoted for consumer use by members of the British Royal family and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for improving sleep. As recently as last Monday, Oura’s CEO, Harpeet Rai, said that the entire future of wearable health tech will soon be “proactive rather than reactive” because it will focus on predicting disease based on biometric data obtained from wearables in real time.

Another wearable tied to the military that is creeping into mass use is the BioButton and its predecessor the BioSticker. Produced by the company BioIntelliSense, the sleek new BioButton is advertised as a wearable system that is “a scalable and cost-effective solution for COVID-19 symptom monitoring at school, home and work.” BioIntelliSense received $2.8 million from the Pentagon last December to develop the BioButton and BioSticker wearables for COVID-19. 

BioIntelliSense CEO James Mault poses with the company’s BioSticker wearable. Source: https://biointellisense.com

BioIntelliSense, cofounded and led by former Microsoft HealthVault developer James Mault, now has its wearable sensors being rolled out for widespread use on some college campuses and at some US hospitals. In some of those instances, the company’s wearables are being used to specifically monitor the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine as opposed to symptoms of COVID-19 itself. BioIntelliSense is currently running a study, partnered with Philips Healthcare and the University of Colorado, on the use of its wearables for early COVID-19 detection, which is entirely funded by the US military.

While the use of these wearables is currently “encouraged but optional” at these pilot locations, could there come a time when they are mandated in a workplace or by a government? It would not be unheard of, as several countries have already required foreign arrivals to be monitored through use of a wearable during a mandatory quarantine period. Saint Lucia is currently using BioButton for this purpose. Singapore, which seeks to be among the first “smart nations” in the world, has given every single one of its residents a wearable called a “TraceTogether token” for its contact-tracing program. Either the wearable token or the TraceTogether smartphone app is mandatory for all workplaces, shopping malls, hotels, schools, health-care facilities, grocery stores, and hair salons. Those without access to a smartphone are expected to use the “free” government-issued wearable token.

The Era of Digital Dictatorships Is Nearly Here

Making mandatory wearables the new normal not just for COVID-19 prevention but for monitoring health in general would institutionalize quarantining people who have no symptoms of an illness but only an opaque algorithm’s determination that vital signs indicate “abnormal” activity. 

Given that no AI is 100 percent accurate and that AI is only as good as the data it is trained on, such a system would be guaranteed to make regular errors: the question is how many. One AI algorithm being used to “predict COVID-19 outbreaks” in Israel and some US states is marketed by Diagnostic Robotics; the (likely inflated) accuracy rate the company provides for its product is only 73 percent. That means, by the company’s own admission, their AI is wrong 27 percent of the time. Probably, it is even less accurate, as the 73 percent figure has never been independently verified.

Adoption of these technologies has benefitted from the COVID-19 crisis, as supporters are seizing the opportunity to accelerate their introduction. As a result, their use will soon become ubiquitous if this advancing agenda continues unimpeded. 

Though this push for wearables is obvious now, signs of this agenda were visible several years ago. In 2018, for instance, insurer John Hancock announced that it would replace its life insurance offerings with “interactive policies” that involve individuals having their health monitored by commercial health wearables. Prior to that announcement, John Hancock and other insurers such as Aetna, Cigna, and UnitedHealthcare offered various rewards for policyholders who wore a fitness wearable and shared that data with their insurance company.

In another pre-COVID example, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article in August 2019 that claimed that wearables “encourage healthy behaviors and empower individuals to participate in their health.” The authors of the article, who are affiliated with Harvard, further claimed that “incentivizing use of these devices [wearables] by integrating them in insurance policies” may be an “attractive” policy approach. The use of wearables for policyholders has since been heavily promoted by the insurance industry, both prior to and after COVID-19, and some speculate that health insurers could soon mandate their use in certain cases or as a broader policy.

These biometric “fitness” devices—such as Amazon’s Halo—can monitor more than your physical vital signs, however, as they can also monitor your emotional state. ARPA-H/HARPA’s flagship SAFE HOME program reveals that the ability to monitor thoughts and feelings is an already existing goal of those seeking to establish this new agency. 

According to World Economic Forum luminary and historian Yuval Noah Harari, the transition to “digital dictatorships” will have a “big watershed” moment once governments “start monitoring and surveying what is happening inside your body and inside your brain.” He says that the mass adoption of such technology would make human beings “hackable animals,” while those who abstain from having this technology on or in their bodies would become part of a new “useless” class. Harari has also asserted that biometric wearables will someday be used by governments to target individuals who have the “wrong” emotional reactions to government leaders. 

Unsurprisingly, one of Harari’s biggest fans, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, has recently led his company into the development of a comprehensive biometric and “neural” wearable based on technology from a “neural interface” start-up that Facebook acquired in 2019. Per Facebook, the wearable “will integrate with AR [augmented reality], VR [virtual reality], and human neural signals” and is set to become commercially available soon. Facebook also notably owns the VR company Oculus Rift, whose founder, Palmer Luckey, now runs the US military AI contractor Anduril. 

As recently reported, Facebook was shaped in its early days to be a private-sector replacement for DARPA’s controversial LifeLog program, which sought to both “humanize” AI and build profiles on domestic dissidents and terror suspects. LifeLog was also promoted by DARPA as “supporting medical research and the early detection of an emerging pandemic.”

It appears that current trends and events show that DARPA’s decades-long effort to merge “health security” and “national security” have now advanced further than ever before. This may partially be because Bill Gates, who has wielded significant influence over health policy globally in the last year, is a long-time advocate of fusing health security and national security to thwart both pandemics and “bioterrorists” before they can strike, as can be heard in his 2017 speech delivered at that year’s Munich Security Conference. That same year, Gates also publicly urged the US military to “focus more training on preparing to fight a global pandemic or bioterror attack.”

In the merging of “national security” and “health security,” any decision or mandate promulgated as a public health measure could be justified as necessary for “national security,” much in the same way that the mass abuses and war crimes that occurred during the post-9/11 “war on terror” were similarly justified by “national security” with little to no oversight. Yet, in this case, instead of only losing our civil liberties and control over our external lives, we stand to lose sovereignty over our individual bodies.

The NIH, which would house this new ARPA-H/HARPA, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars experimenting with the use of wearables since 2015, not only for detecting disease symptoms but also for monitoring individuals’ diets and illegal drug consumption. Biden played a key part in that project, known as the Precision Medicine initiative, and separately highlighted the use of wearables in cancer patients as part of the Obama administration’s related Cancer Moonshot program. The third Obama-era health-research project was the NIH’s BRAIN initiative, which was launched, among other things, to “develop tools to record, mark, and manipulate precisely defined neurons in the living brain” that are determined to be linked to an “abnormal” function or a neurological disease. These initiatives took place at a time when Eric Lander was the cochair of Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology while still leading the Broad Institute. It is hardly a coincidence that Eric Lander is now Biden’s top science adviser, elevated to a new cabinet-level position and set to guide the course of ARPA-H/HARPA.

Thus, Biden’s newly announced agency, if approved by Congress, would integrate those past Obama-era initiatives with Orwellian applications under one roof, but with even less oversight than before. It would also seek to expand and mainstream the uses of these technologies and potentially move toward developing policies that would mandate their use.

If ARPA-H/HARPA is approved by Congress and ultimately established, it will be used to resurrect dangerous and long-standing agendas of the national-security state and its Silicon Valley contractors, creating a “digital dictatorship” that threatens human freedom, human society, and potentially the very definition of what it means to be human. 

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 23:40

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When Will Lab-Grown Meat Become Cheap Enough To Buy?

When Will Lab-Grown Meat Become Cheap Enough To Buy?

Lab-grown meat consumes less energy and water and emits significantly fewer greenhouse gases than farm-raised meat. Bioengineering meat products in labs are part of the new food supply chain that we’re all going to eat after the global green reset is over

Dozens of start-ups have been making cultured or in vitro meats for a number of years. Production costs are expensive and are about a decade away from parity with traditional meat prices. 

Israeli start-up Future Meat, whose backers include Archer Daniels Midland, Tyson Foods, and S2G, has halved production costs in just a few months for its lab-grown chicken – a big move towards commercial viability, according to Financial Times.

Future meat can produce a 110-gram chicken breast for just under $4, down from $7.50 announced at the start of the year. 

Rom Kshuk, the chief executive, expects the piece of meat could fall below $2 in the next 12-18 months. 

There are more than 50 companies worldwide working on getting lab-grown meat into supermarkets. Kshuk said his company is focused on obtaining regulatory approval for commercialization from the USDA and the FDA in 2022.

“We will launch a product in the US market in the next 18 months that will have a commercially viable price,” he told FT.

From chicken nuggets to lobster, companies are working towards a more sustainable approach for future food. 

There’s also been a push for plant-based meat and an increasing acceptance of plant-based products. This could be great news for lab-grown meat as it appears global elites want to crush livestock farming because they believe it significantly contributes to greenhouse emissions. 

So the question we are all asking ourselves – when does lab-grown meat become commercially viable where the average consumer can afford it? According to FT, sometime in the early 2030s. 

It’s becoming more evident how the global reset and elites behind it are restructuring the global economy towards their eventual goals of a net-zero carbon emissions economy by the 2040-2060 timeframe. 

… but like anything spewing from government or the non-elected officials who attempt to dictate the future – they’re often wrong in timing or the outcome as a whole. 

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 23:20

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Existential Economic Threats: How US States Can Survive Without Federal Money

Existential Economic Threats: How US States Can Survive Without Federal Money

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us,

We all knew it was coming; the alternative economic media has been warning about it for years. Eventually, monetary intervention and bailout after bailout by central banks always leads to devaluation of the currency and inflation in prices. Helicopter money always ends in disaster and at no point in history has it ever produced positive long-term results for a society.

The federal reserve has generated trillions in fiat dollars over the course of a single year (on top of the tens of trillions created in the past decade), all in the name of offsetting deflation. This deflation was NOT caused by the pandemic, it was caused by the government response to the pandemic.  On top of that, the shutdowns of “non-essential businesses” and the lockdowns in general ended up being useless in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

All the information, all the facts and all the science supports the anti-lockdown crowd. Conservative run states that removed lockdowns and mandates months ago are seeing falling infection and death numbers and local businesses are on the mend. The problem is, government authorities don’t seem to care about this. It appears that their intention is to double down and continue demanding restrictions stay in place for the long haul.

In other words, they are going to FIND an excuse to keep the mandates going. If no reason exists, they will create a reason. Consider for a moment the fact that COVID-19 is mutating constantly, and like any other virus there are new strains that pop up every year. Just as we have a seasonal flu, we will probably now have seasonal COVID.

Since viruses also tend to evolve into less deadly forms of their original iteration it is unlikely that new COVID mutations will be any more dangerous than they were in the past. But each new strain creates a new rationale for the federal government to proclaim a national emergency and possibly enforce new lockdowns.

This puts a lot of state governments in a difficult position. If they ever shut down again simply because federal authorities demand it, they will be angering their citizens and harming their region’s cash flow and production. Small businesses will go bankrupt by the thousands and the public will be on the verge of rebellion.

On the other hand, if states defy the federal government (many are already passing laws blocking draconian vaccine passports), there is a good chance that the feds will respond by cutting off taxpayer funds and stimulus dollars to those states. With the combined threats of price inflation and federal financial retaliation, some states may cave and submit to more lockdowns or other mandates. And, by extension, their economies will begin to die once again.

It’s a Catch-22, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are measures that states and communities can take to diminish inflation and reduce dependency on federal dollars at the same time.

Taking Back Resource Management

The most important action states and counties can pursue in my view is taking back control of resource management within their own borders. For decades the federal government through agencies like the EPA and the Bureau of Land Management have dictated how states can utilize natural resources. Entire industries have faded in the U.S. because of this, whether it be oil production, coal production, steel production, lumber production, etc.

If the federal government tries to punish states that refuse to comply with fiscally damaging pandemic restrictions by taking away stimulus payments and tax dollars, those states should reclaim control of their resources and ignore federal agencies. They should also take away federally controlled lands within their borders to make up for the loss of tax dollars. It’s only fair.

With resource production back in the hands of the states and their local businesses, these economies will have a chance to become more independent and the need for federal money will diminish.

Incentives For Local Manufacturing

Aggressive taxation along with overpowered labor unions have made manufacturing businesses difficult to maintain in the U.S., but states have the power to change this.

If we define price inflation as too many dollars chasing too few goods (I realize this is only one aspect of inflation, but it is important), then increased production of raw materials and manufactured goods should help to decrease inflation pressures. Why is production in the U.S. continuing to stagnate when it should be quickly expanding?

Many of the products Americans purchase are made overseas, and with continued dollar devaluation, this means that prices will keep rising. A weaker dollar translates to higher costs in exchange for foreign made goods. So, why not make those goods here?

Availability reduces price increases, localized manufacturing reduces dependency on foreign goods and increases employment. But how can states bring manufacturing back?  I suspect it is more simple than many economists realize: Just offer protection from federal taxation to any manufacturer that is willing to open up shop within your state. If the government is going to try to punish you anyway just for refusing to comply with pandemic rules, then you might as well take it to the next level and punish the government back.

This should create ample incentive for new businesses in particular to start production within certain states as profits would be MUCH higher. Their ability to compete with major corporations (which get unlimited special treatment from the federal government through stimulus measures) would also grow.

Create A Commodity-Backed Currency System

While labor and wages are a sensitive issue, the market, if left to flow naturally, will determine what fair wages and fair prices should be. That said, in the midst of a monetary crisis such as hyperinflation or stagflation, the most likely response by the federal government would be price controls as well as wage controls and rationing of goods. The last vestiges of the free market would be eradicated.

As long as states rely on the dollar, and the dollar’s value is determined by the whims of central bankers that do not actually answer to the public, there is no way to fight inflationary damage. However, if states were to offer an alternative currency or scrip that was NOT fiat, that was backed by a tangible resource or commodity that helps to limit money creation, then they could save themselves.

Such a move would have to be undertaken by a state-run bank, much like the bank that North Dakota utilizes to aid industry and agriculture. As long as issuance of the currency is backed by a commodity or precious metal like gold (or with inherent intrinsic value like the Morgan silver dollar). A backed currency’s value would be preserved even as the dollar sinks. Commodity-backed currencies would flourish as citizens and investors (even international investors) search for safe havens.

Essentially, states and communities would be decentralizing their economies so they are no longer slaves to the demands of people that answer to no one and do not have our best interests at heart.

There is, of course, the issue of aggression against states that take these measures, but we should remember that this is exactly what the Founding Fathers did in the years leading up to the American Revolution. They did not simply declare their independence, they made themselves independent through localized economic tactics.

Without economic independence, no other freedoms are possible. I believe it is time for Americans and free-minded states to once again focus on localization. The future of liberty in our nation depends on it.

*  *  *

After 10 long years of ultra-loose monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, it’s no secret that inflation is primed to soar. If your IRA or 401(k) is exposed to this threat, it’s critical to act now! That’s why thousands of Americans are moving their retirement into a Gold IRA. Learn how you can too with a free info kit on gold from Birch Gold Group. It reveals the little-known IRS Tax Law to move your IRA or 401(k) into gold. Click here to get your free Info Kit on Gold.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 23:00

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3vTNkhl Tyler Durden

Dream Chaser Spaceplane Cleared To Resupply Space Station 

Dream Chaser Spaceplane Cleared To Resupply Space Station 

The Dream Chaser spaceplane entered into a Use Agreement for Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility (LLF) to land after resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2022. 

The uncrewed, robotic spaceplane will be catapulted into low Earth orbit via the Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rockets from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The first resupply mission is slated for the first half of 2022. 

Once the Dream Chaser docks and delivers cargo to the ISS – the ship will return to LLF, formerly known as the space shuttle runway. The spaceplane needs a 10,000-foot runway or wherever a commercial jet land.

“This is a monumental step for both Dream Chaser and the future of space travel,” said Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) CEO Fatih Ozmen. SNC was tasked with developing the spaceplane. “To have a commercial vehicle return from the International Space Station to a runway landing for the first time since NASA’s space shuttle program ended a decade ago will be a historic achievement,” he said.

Janet Kavandi, executive vice president of SNC’s Space Systems business area, said Dream Chaser is “hands-down the best way home,” adding that “a runway landing is an optimum solution for both humans and science.” 

This is opposed to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule that splashes down in the ocean upon return. 

Sierra Nevada won $2 billion in NASA contracts to develop Dream Chaser as a reusable cargo vessel. As early as spring 2022, the company could start the first of seven cargo trips to ISS. 

ISS is expected to wind down operations by the end of this decade. Russia is set to withdraw from the space station by 2025. 

Sierra Nevada executives believe Dream Chaser can carry people someday and be more appealing to space tourists. The company appears to be taking advantage of the increasing interest in commercial space investments.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 22:40

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Bovard: The Coming IRS Reign Of Terror

Bovard: The Coming IRS Reign Of Terror

Authored by James Bovard,

The power to tax has long conferred the power to destroy political opponents. But in the glorious era of President Joe Biden, all previous cases of government abuse of power are being expunged, at least by the media and Biden supporters. That is why it is supposedly safe to vastly increase the power of perhaps the most feared federal agency, the Internal Revenue Service.

After announcing his endless wish list for new federal spending, Biden told Congress last week: “I’ve made clear that we can do it without increasing deficits.” Biden believes he has found a goose that will lay golden eggs for federal revenue – a new army of IRS agents to hound Americans and corporations to pay far more taxes.

The Washington Post reported that “the single biggest source of new revenue in the plan comes from dramatically expanding the clout of the nation’s tax agency.” Slate reported, “Biden wants to fund a massive upgrade to the American welfare state by making the IRS great at audits again.”

But the agency Biden seeks to expand and unleash has an appalling record.

As author David Burnham noted in “A Law Unto Itself: The IRS and the Abuse of Power” (1990), “In almost every administration since the IRS’s inception the information and power of the tax agency have been mobilized for explicitly political purposes.”

President Franklin Roosevelt used the IRS to harass newspaper publishers who were opposed to the New Deal, including William Randolph Hearst. FDR also dropped the IRS hammer on political rivals such as the populist firebrand Huey Long and radio agitator Father Coughlin, and prominent Republicans such as former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. President John F. Kennedy spurred the IRS to launch the Ideological Organizations Audit Project, which targeted right-leaning groups, including the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, the American Enterprise Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education. Nixon Administration officials gave the IRS a list of official enemies to, in the words of presidential assistant John Dean, “use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.” Congress enacted legislation to severely restrict political contacts between the White House and the IRS.

But the power of IRS agents continued to increase decade by decade. In 1988, then-Sen. David Pryor, a moderate Democrat from Arkansas, warned that the IRS “operates a near totalitarian system.” Pryor complained that the IRS had encouraged a “bounty-hunter mentality among revenue officers” and called for reforms to assure that the IRS “operates on the basis of public respect rather than fear.” Congress enacted a so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights but it failed to curb the revenuers.

The Clinton administration, like many of its predecessors, exploited the IRS to punish its political enemies. In 1995, the White House and the Democratic National Committee produced a 331-page report entitled “Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce” that attacked magazines, think tanks, and other entities and individuals who had criticized President Bill Clinton. In the subsequent years, many organizations mentioned in the White House report were hit by IRS audits. More than 20 conservative organizations — including the Heritage Foundation and the American Spectator magazine — and almost a dozen individual high-profile Clinton accusers, such as Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers, were audited.

Members of Congress also routinely exploited their power to send the secret financial police against their enemies. The Associated Press reported in 1999 that “members of both parties in Congress have prompted hundreds of audits of political opponents in the 1990s,” including “personal demands for audits from members of Congress.” Audit requests from congressmen were marked “expedite” or “hot politically” and IRS officials were obliged to respond within 15 days. Because the abuse was bipartisan, there was little enthusiasm on Capitol Hill for an investigation.

In the Obama era, the IRS again became a political hit squad. The IRS demanded donor lists from 24 conservative nonprofits and proceeded to audit 10% of their donors — an audit rate ten times higher than average for the country. A 2013 Inspector General report confirmed that IRS employees had devoted far more scrutiny to nonprofit applications that used the terms “tea party” or “patriot” or that criticized government spending or federal deficits. In 2017, the IRS formally apologized to scores of conservative groups that it had wrongfully targeted in tax audits.

The hubbub over Obama IRS machinations overshadowed similar appalling abuses on Capitol Hill. In 2014, the Center for Competitive Politics (since renamed as the Institute for Free Speech) filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee charging that senators had personally intervened to demand IRS audits against conservative organizations. The senators “pressured the IRS to undertake income-tax investigations of specific organizations, to find that specific organizations were in violation of the law, to reach predetermined results pertaining to pending applications by individual organizations for nonprofit status.”

Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer, lamenting the Republican takeover over the House of Representatives in 2010, declared that “there are many things that can be done by the IRS.” In a March 12, 2012 letter to the IRS, Schumer “urged the service to investigate various groups identified through reference to news articles,” a Wall Street Journal oped noted. On December 16, 2014, the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed the complaint from the Center for Competitive Politics, claiming that senators “have broad discretion to comment on matters of public policy in communications with agencies.” Perhaps the committee also presumed senators had a sacred prerogative to exploit the IRS to assail their enemies.

While political abuses of the IRS have received most of the headlines, routine day to day outrages have continued unabated for decades. In the 1990s, IRS agents were indoctrinated to see taxpayers as liars and class enemies.

IRS agents were trained with a game called “Culture Bingo.” That game taught the doctrine: “Taxpayers seem to live better than I do” to maximize resentment of taxpayers being audited. The American Institute for Certified Public Examiners complained of the course materials: “Every ethical issue presented finds the ethical result to be pro-IRS and anti-taxpayer. There is not one scenario where an IRS agent might act unethically against a taxpayer’s interest.”

“Culture Bingo” spurred IRS agents to audit the lifestyles of taxpayers instead of simply their tax returns. IRS agents showed up unannounced to inspect people’s homes and demand to know what people kept in their bedroom drawers.

Former Republican Sen. Bill Roth exposed stunning IRS abuses in Senate hearings in the late 1990s. Former IRS district chief David Patnoe testified: “More tax is collected by fear and intimidation than by the law. People are afraid of the IRS.”

One confidential IRS document uncovered in 1997 revealed that IRS auditors in the San Francisco region were expected to assess at least $1,012 in additional taxes for each hour they spend auditing a taxpayer’s return. An IRS instructor in the Arkansas-Oklahoma district was caught on videotape lecturing collection agents on how to treat taxpayers: “Make them cry. We don’t give points around here for being good scouts. The word is enforced. If that’s not tattooed on your forehead, or somewhere else, then you need to get it. Enforcement. Seizure and sales…. Enforce collection until they come to their knees.”

Congress passed reform legislation, but it did little to curb the vast arbitrary power possessed by IRS agents. Consider IRS depredations under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, which required banks to file a federal report for any cash transaction exceeding $10,000. The IRS “enforced” the law by presuming that anyone who deposited slightly less than $10,000 was a criminal. The IRS seized a quarter billion dollars because it disapproved of how businesses and individuals structured their bank deposits and withdrawals. IRS bureaucrats don’t even need to file a criminal charge before snaring citizens’ life savings.

Between 2005 and 2012, the number of IRS seizures rose more than fivefold, but the vast majority of victims were never criminally prosecuted for structuring offenses. “One-third of those cases involved nothing more than making a series of sub-$10,000 cash transactions,” the Institute for Justice reported. A 2017 Inspector General report found no evidence in 91% of the forfeiture cases that the money came from illegal activities. IRS investigators simply looked at banking records and then confiscated  the accounts of hundreds of people. Most of the victims were “legal businesses such as jewelry stores, restaurant owners, gas station owners, scrap metal dealers, and others.”

The IRS targeted businesses with legal sources of income because “the Department of Justice had encouraged task forces to engage in ‘quick hits,’ where property was more quickly seized… rather than pursuing cases with other criminal activity (such as drug trafficking and money laundering), which are more time-consuming,” the Inspector General reported.

The one certainty is that the new powers Biden bestows on the IRS will be horrendously abused, and that most members of Congress won’t give a damn.

Instead, they will pile on to further oppress American citizens and political activists. In 1967, a federal appeals court decision proclaimed, “The court will not place its stamp of approval upon a witch-hunt, a crusade to rid society of unorthodox thinkers and actors by using the federal income tax laws” to silence them.

Unfortunately, such lofty sentiments are far more likely to be found in musty judicial compilations than in today’s Washington.

*  *  *

James Bovard is the author of “Attention Deficit Democracy,” “The Bush Betrayal,” “Terrorism and Tyranny,” and other books. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors. He is on Twitter at @jimbovard. His website is at www.jimbovard.com

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 22:20

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East Bay Area Homes Selling $1 Million Over Asking Price 

East Bay Area Homes Selling $1 Million Over Asking Price 

The housing boom sparked by the Federal Reserve during the virus pandemic was built on historically low mortgage rates and record low inventory as city-dwellers moved to rural areas amid remote-work phenomenon. 

According to San Francisco Chronicle, the East Bay area or the eastern region of the San Francisco Bay Area has been an area of extreme housing market euphoria as some homes are selling more than $1 million over the list price. 

Josh Dickinson, the founder of real estate agency Zip Code East Bay, said it’s pretty common to see a home go $1 million over list price. “When my clients see a house for $1.9 million, they’re almost conditioned to think it’ll go over $3 million in Piedmont or North Berkeley,” he said. 

This year, Dickinson said, a fierce bidding war between “frantic” buyers is absolutely crazy. Buyers are becoming super aggressive in how they submit offers, he added. 

“I think I could pull up the MLS and pull up a dozen [listings] that went more than a million over this year so far,” he said. “Most of them had the ‘it factor,’ but some of them were just in the right place at the right time.”

Dickinson said people are searching for amazing views and a spacious backyard in a post-COVID environment. More importantly, there needs to be enough space for at least two home offices. 

“Even we don’t know as savvy agents. We don’t know when the thing is going to go bonkers,” he said. “We just try to let the market do its thing.”

Record-low inventory, low mortgage rates, and urban flight have been the perfect cocktail for the East Bay boom. 

In April, a five-bedroom home in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley sold for $3.15 million, in an all-cash deal, with a listing price of $1.995 million. Since March, at least 20 properties have sold for more than $800,000 over the listing price, and six of those went for $1 million or more over the asking price three in Berkeley, three in Oakland, one in Piedmont.

Redfin real estate agent Ena Everett said the East Bay market is becoming a lot more competitive. “In Oakland and Berkeley … people could expect homes to go 20% over asking on a pretty regular basis,” she said. “Now that the supply is a lot smaller, instead of 20% over, it’s common to see houses go for 10 to 40% over asking or more.”

Overall, Bay Area home prices increased by 6% as compared to the same time last year.

We noted not too long ago, an uninhabitable shack in the Bay Area was listed for $575k. 

This year, housing prices have been so absurd that Case-Shiller, US home prices in 20 major cities are up a shocking 11.10% year-over-year.

This is the fastest YoY rise since March 2014.

Away from the 20 major cities, prices are rising even faster, up 11.22% – the fastest YoY price appreciation since Feb 2006…

… but as we all know, manias don’t last forever and today’s housing boom may have just had a wake-up call from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said (but has since walked back) interest rates might have to rise to prevent any significant inflationary impact. 

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 22:00

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The Rise Of Bitcoin

The Rise Of Bitcoin

Authored by William Luther via The American Institute for Economic Research,

In hindsight, the rise of cryptocurrencies appears to have begun with the introduction of bitcoin in 2009. Earlier cryptocurrencies had been launched in the 1990s, but they failed to take hold. David Chaum’s DigiCash is widely thought to have been ahead of its time. Chaum founded his company at the start of the decade, well before the rise of e-commerce. By 1998, it had filed for bankruptcy. More generally, early “digital-cash firms made a fatal miscalculation,” Julia Pitta wrote for Forbes in 1999. “They figured, wrongly it turns out, that consumers would be leery of using credit cards on the Web and would demand tight security and ironclad privacy.”

It was not clear, at first, that bitcoin would be any different. Perhaps fearing the fate of e-gold creator Douglas Jackson, bitcoin’s designer(s) adopted a pseudonym––the now-famous Satoshi Nakamoto––and shared the upstart open source project in email to the Cryptography Mailing List on January 8, 2009. Nakamoto had circulated a white paper explaining the technical details a few months before. Congratulatory replies soon followed, but there was little indication that bitcoin would quickly become a household name. It was little more than a novelty discussed by a handful of programmers on the Internet.

Over the nine months that followed, bitcoin was basically worthless. Transactions consisted of mere test spends by the few programmers interested in bitcoin at the time in order to work out bugs in the protocol. No one was handing over valuable goods or services for bitcoin. There were no market exchange rates with the dollar, euro, or other currencies. Indeed, there were no exchanges to facilitate currency exchange.

The first positive-price transaction for bitcoin appears to have occurred in early October 2009. On October 5, a user employing the username New Liberty Standard estimated that it cost roughly $1 to produce 1,309.03 bitcoin. Seven days later, he purchased 5,050 bitcoin from Martti Malmi for $5.05, settling the transaction via PayPal. The price of bitcoin, in other words, stood at just $0.0010. 

Prior to March 2010, users interested in exchanging traditional currencies for bitcoin were limited to ad hoc exchanges, typically organized via message boards. Then, on March 16, The Bitcoin Market became operational, providing a central location on the Internet to exchange bitcoin for dollars. The first posted bid, submitted by the site-creator dwdollar, put the price of bitcoin at $0.0067.

In addition to helping users acquire or offload bitcoin, the new exchange also made it easier to assess the exchange value of bitcoin. If you know, for example, that a host of users are willing to pay $0.50 to $0.75 for 100 bitcoin, you can use that information to figure out how much other goods and services routinely priced in dollars are worth in terms of bitcoin. The new exchange, therefore, makes it easier for users to buy and sell goods and services with bitcoin.

On May 22, 2010, a Jacksonville, FL-based programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz made what many believe to be the first purchase of goods or services with bitcoin. In a post to the BitcoinTalk forum on May 18, Hanyecz offered to purchase two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoin. The implicit exchange rate was generous. The Bitcoin Market valued 10,000 bitcoin at around $41 at the time. But, initially, there were no takers. “I just think it would be interesting if I could say that I paid for a pizza in bitcoins,” Hanyecz posted on May 21. The following day, he posted photos of two large pizzas from Papa John’s. Together, he and a user named jercos, who had facilitated the transaction, showed that bitcoin could be used to acquire goods and services in the real world.

As word of the upstart cryptocurrency spread, so too did its value. A Slashdot article published on July 11 introduced bitcoin to a host of new users. The exchange rate increased from $0.008 on July 12 to $0.080 on July 17. On July 18, Jed McCaleb launched the popular exchange site MtGox and, by November 6, one bitcoin was trading for $0.50 on the site. Keir Thomas profiled bitcoin for PC World on December 10. “Bitcoins are worth taking a look at,” he wrote. In the years that followed, many people did. On December 3, 2013, one bitcoin was worth $1,078.

Today, there are few people who have not heard about bitcoin. And, yet, just as few people seem to understand how it works.

Perhaps that is to be expected.

The way in which the bitcoin protocol processes transactions is new and fundamentally different from traditional payment mechanisms. Whereas traditional payment mechanisms employ decentralized or centralized clearing mechanisms, bitcoin transactions are processed via a distributed clearing mechanism.

Consider a cash transaction. When you pay for a Coke with cash, the transaction is cleared by you and the merchant. You debit your account by removing the dollar from your wallet and handing it to the merchant. The merchant credits her account by accepting the dollar from you and placing it in the cash register. Since cash is physical, and no longer in your possession, you cannot spend that dollar again. That dollar now belongs to the merchant, who can spend it as she sees fit.

Cash, in other words, is processed using a decentralized clearing mechanism.  A decentralized payment is cleared by the parties to the exchange. No trusted third party is required to process the transaction. Indeed, no one other than the parties to the transaction even needs to know that the transaction occurred.

Suppose, instead, you were to purchase that Coke by writing a check or swiping your debit card. In this case, your bank will debit your account and transfer the funds to the merchant’s bank. The merchant’s bank will credit her account. The funds, in this case, are digital. Unlike physical cash, digital balances could be duplicated and spent again. However, the banking system generally prevents that from happening. Once funds have been transferred, they are considered final––meaning the sender no longer has access to the funds.

Checks and debit card payments are processed using a centralized clearing mechanism. A bank or other financial institution acts as a trusted third party to process the transaction. Indeed, such transactions often involve multiple levels of centralized clearing. The transaction between your bank and the merchant’s bank, for example, might be cleared by the Federal Reserve’s FedWire. The Fed debits your bank’s account and credits the account of the merchant’s bank. Centralized clearing requires routing the transaction––and, hence, information about the transaction––through one or more trusted third parties. As such, they tend to offer less financial privacy than other payment mechanisms.

Bitcoin employs neither a decentralized nor centralized clearing mechanism. Instead, it processes transactions using a distributed clearing mechanism. With distributed clearing, payments are processed by the network as a whole. Typically, distributed networks amount to a shared ledger, which denotes who owns what, and a protocol for updating that ledger. In many cases, any individual user is capable of debiting and crediting accounts on the ledger. Changes to the ledger are only recognized as legitimate, however, when they have been confirmed by the network of users in accordance with the protocol.

If you were to pay for that Coke with bitcoin, you would announce the transaction to the network by signing a balance of bitcoin with your private key, thereby confirming ownership, and identifying the merchant by her public key. In practice, this often amounts to scanning a QR code with a bitcoin wallet mobile app. Your transaction is then bundled together with other recent transactions and the computers running the bitcoin protocol race to process the entire block of transaction. Once the block of transactions has been processed, the ledger is updated to reflect the various debits and credits required by the transactions in the block. The shared ledger is known as a blockchain because each block of transactions is chained to the previous block, producing a long chain of transaction blocks corresponding to all of the transactions that have been made and certified as legitimate up until that point.

While it is convenient to think about a single shared ledger, or blockchain, indicating how much bitcoin is in each account, there are in fact multiple versions of that shared ledger at any point in time. The bitcoin protocol resolves this issue by recognizing the longest blockchain as legitimate. As a result, those running the bitcoin protocol will typically abandon shorter blockchains in order to build on the longest blockchain. Any transaction that has been included in a shorter blockchain but not in the longer, legitimate blockchain is added to a subsequent block of transactions to be processed.

Recall that, with cash, one need not worry about a balance being spent more than once since spending requires relinquishing ownership of the physical asset; with checks and debit cards, a bank or banking system ensures that ownership of the digital asset is relinquished when spent. Two features of the bitcoin protocol combine to prevent double spending. First, it is computationally difficult to process transactions. In order to add a block of transactions to the blockchain, a computer must be the first to solve for the input corresponding to the given hashed output. Since a brute force approach is the best any computer can do, each computer  effectively has a random chance of being the first to process a batch of transactions proportionate to its share of the bitcoin system’s computing power. Second, as noted above, the bitcoin protocol recognizes the longest blockchain as legitimate. In order to execute a double spend, therefore, one would not only need to pass an illegitimate transaction as legitimate; he would also have to continue processing transactions at a faster rate than than the rest of the network in order to ensure the blockchain supporting his illegitimate transaction remained the longest. Unless a user enjoys a majority of the computing power on the system, such a feat would be incredibly unlikely. Knowing this in advance leaves little incentive to attempt a double spend attack in the first place. 

The blockchain technology at bitcoin’s core provides a new and fundamentally different way to process payments. It relies on neither decentralized nor centralized clearing. Instead, it processes transactions over a distributed network. And, by solving the double spending problem without recourse to a trusted third party, it has the potential to offer a degree of financial privacy comparable to decentralized payment mechanisms like cash. For these reasons, bitcoin has gained much support. Whether bitcoin will become routine in retail transactions, remain limited to niche uses, or be abandoned altogether remains to be seen.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 21:40

via ZeroHedge News https://www.zerohedge.com/crypto/rise-bitcoin Tyler Durden

Demand For Ass Implants Booms During Pandemic 

Demand For Ass Implants Booms During Pandemic 

In the early days of the virus pandemic, things didn’t look so hot for the field of plastic survey. Hospitals were overrun with COVID-19 infections and banned all elective procedures, limiting plastic surgeries. But sometime after, when the economy reopened, and hospitals allowed elective surgeries, demand for butt implants soared. 

Bloomberg, citing data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), says there were broad declines for minimally invasive and surgical cosmetic procedures during 2020. Botox and soft-tissue fillers remained popular with consumers. But it was buttock augmentation, or butt implants were a massive hit among consumers. Cosmetic procedures for the implants last year were up 22%, from 970 to 1,179. 

Dermatologist Ava Shamban said the lockdowns likely triggered those with flat buttocks to receive implants after spending their days surfing Instagram and seeing influencers and models with “higher, tighter rounder assets. “

The typical butt implant is not cheap, costing more than $5,000, and has a durability life of approximately ten years. ASPS doesn’t provide data on the average age or gender of those who received buttock augmentation during 2020, but we would assume it was bored millennials who still had a job. Unless stimulus checks were spent on ass implants, there are no data points supporting this. 

Here are some examples of before and after buttock augmentations: 

ASPS said one of the most significant declines in cosmetic procedures during the pandemic were hair transplants, down 60% last year. 

Dr. Lisa Cassileth of Cassileth Plastic Surgery and Skincare told Bloomberg since implants have a shelf life and will eventually fail, an eventual replacement or removal will be needed. 

“The population of aging implants is getting greater every year, so part of this is just a reflection of the boom we have had in implants over the years,” Cassileth said. 

So if it’s wanting to look like an Instagram influencer or removal of old implants – ASPS doesn’t specify – all we do know is that cosmetic surgical procedures for ass implants soared during the pandemic.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 21:20

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Texas Senate Approves Permitless Carry Of Handguns

Texas Senate Approves Permitless Carry Of Handguns

Authored by Janita Kan via The Epoch Times,

The Texas Senate approved a bill on May 5 that would allow eligible residents 21 years and older to carry a holstered handgun, openly or concealed, without a permit, also known as constitutional carry.

House Bill 1927 passed the Republican-led Senate in an 18–13 vote following a lengthy debate and will now head back to the House to debate amendments and settle differences between the two chambers’ versions. The House had passed the measure in mid-April.

Gov. Greg Abbott has previously signaled that he’s supportive of such a measure and told WBAP’s Rick Roberts last week that he was willing to sign it.

“Once the Senate passes it out, the House and Senate will convene and work out any differences and get it to my desk and I’ll be signing it,” Abbott said.

Under current Texas law, residents are required to obtain a permit to carry handguns. To obtain the permit, applicants must complete classroom training, pass a written exam, submit fingerprints, and pass a proficiency demonstration.

Republicans say the proposed law will help remove some barriers for Lone Star State residents to carry a handgun and hence save them time and money.

State Sen. Charles Schwertner previously defended the bill at a committee meeting following the House’s passage of the measure.

“Right now, we have the license to carry—the LTC—and it is a hurdle for some individuals to avail themselves of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and I think that is a hurdle that should be removed. That’s what this bill does,” he said.

Opponents of the law, including state Democrats, have expressed concerns that the proposed bill would allow individuals to obtain a handgun without appropriate training or background checks. Some members of law enforcement have also expressed concerns about the bill.

Austin Police Interim Chief Joseph Chacon said at a press conference last week that he believes the proposed law would “make our streets less safe and will make law enforcement’s jobs harder.”

“Guns are easier to obtain than ever before, and it has become more common for people to use them. Weakening training regulations and effectively eliminating training requirements is not the direction that we should be going right now,” Chacon said.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who previously expressed worry that the Senate lacked the votes to pass the measure, issued a statement on May 5 welcoming the passage.

“I am proud that the Texas Senate passed House Bill 1927 today, the Constitutional Carry bill, which affirms every Texan’s right to self-defense and our state’s strong support for our Second Amendment right to bear arms. In the Lone Star State, the Constitution is our permit to carry,” Patrick said.

The National Rifle Association had previously expressed support for the measure, saying in a statement that “it’s time for Texas to join the 20 other states that have legalized this personal protection option.”

Infographic: Which States Allow the Permitless Carry of Guns? | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Last month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law his state’s version of a permitless carry measure.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 21:00

via ZeroHedge News https://www.zerohedge.com/political/texas-senate-approves-permitless-carry-handguns Tyler Durden

China Plans To Build Giant Wind Farm Next To USAF Base In Texas 

China Plans To Build Giant Wind Farm Next To USAF Base In Texas 

Texas lawmakers have launched an all-out effort to block a Chinese billionaire from building a massive wind farm near Laughlin Air Force base in southwest Texas. The wind farm’s close proximity to the military base has raised concerns about potential spying and attacks on the energy grid by China. 

The Chinese-backed project called Blue Hills Wind, which could house up to 40 turbines in Val Verde County, Texas, is being managed by GH America Energy, the US subsidiary of the Chinese Guanghui Energy Company. The project sits on approximately 140,000 acres of land located about 70 miles from Laughlin. 

According to American Military News, Guanghui is owned by Chinese billionaire Sun Guangxin, who reportedly has close relations with the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The legislation called the “Protecting Military Installations and Ranges Act,” was passed last month by a handful of lawmakers, Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23) today with Senators Cruz (R-TX) and Rubio (R-FL), and Congressmen Ronny Jackson (TX-13) and Pat Fallon (TX-04), to prevent foreign enemies from acquiring land near military bases.

Lawmaker’s behind the bill are attempting to stop the Chinese billionaire from hooking into the Texas power grid and potentially spying for China. 

“Our greatest concern is the long-term implications this will have on the Air Force’s mission of pilot training not with a single application, but rather a cumulative strategy that cannot be evaluated in the first filing,” Val Verde County Judge Lewis G. Owens Jr. and Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano wrote in a letter obtained by Foreign Policy. “We believe that this project and all future projects of a similar nature will result in unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States.”

Meanwhile, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) authorized GH America Energy’s Texas wind farm project in 2020. However, the lawmakers in the state are making sure the project is stopped. 

Whatever the outcome is in Texas will certainly be a testament to the deteriorating Sino-US relations, even under a new US administration.

Last week, President Biden made his first public address to Congress. Speaking to the chamber, he frequently said his expansive domestic policy agenda is a call to confront Beijing in a battle of “democracy versus autocracy.”

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/07/2021 – 20:40

via ZeroHedge News https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/china-plans-build-giant-wind-farm-next-usaf-base-texas Tyler Durden