Proud Boys Leader Joseph Biggs Sentenced To 17 Years In Prison As ‘Terrorist’ Over Role In J6

Proud Boys Leader Joseph Biggs Sentenced To 17 Years In Prison As ‘Terrorist’ Over Role In J6

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Proud Boys leader Joseph Randall Biggs to 17 years in prison – more than a lot of murderers receive – after calling the destruction of a fence on US Capitol property during the January 6, 2001 Capitol breach an act of terrorism.

Proud Boys organizer Joseph Biggs walks from the George C. Young Federal Annex Courthouse in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 20, 2021. (Sam Thomas/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

The 39-year-old Biggs is the first of the Proud Boys leaders sentenced after being found guilty of seditious conspiracy in May along with five other charges related to the event.

Which reminds us – instigator Ray Epps, who’s totally not a fed, remains free to this day.

Biggs was also convicted of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to use force, intimidation, or threats to prevent officers of the United States from discharging their duties, interference with law enforcement during civil disorder, and destruction of government property.

The sentence, handed down by US District Judge Timothy Kelly, followed the DOJ’s recommendation to add a terrorism enhancement, which greatly increased his potential prison time. That said, Kelly opted for roughly half the prison time the DOJ had sought.

I know that I messed up that day. But I’m not a terrorist. I know I have to be punished, and I understand,” said Biggs in an emotional statement to Kelly.

According to Kelly, Biggs and the other Proud Boys were part of a “mob that brought an entire government branch to heel” on January 6th.

More via the Epoch Times,

In a sentencing memo filed with the court on Aug. 17, defense attorney Norman Pattis anticipated the terrorism-enhanced sentence, although in court he described it as “shocking” and a “grotesque overreach” that is designed to chill dissent.

‘Not Terrorists’

“The defendants are not terrorists,” Mr. Pattis wrote. “Whatever excesses of zeal they demonstrated on January 6, 2021, and no matter how grave the potential interference with the orderly transfer of power due to the events of that day, a decade or more behind bars is an excessive punishment.”

Addressing Judge Kelly on Aug. 31, Mr. Pattis said: “The conundrum is often speech is used to explain the crime. In this case, the crime was used to explain the speech.”

Mr. Pattis said Mr. Biggs’s destruction of a $32,000 Capitol fence shouldn’t be considered terrorism because the fence was a “means to an end,” not an attempt to influence the government.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough defended the government’s recommended 33-year prison sentence.

“It is justified,” Mr. McCullough said. “These are very serious crimes.”

In its sentencing memorandum for Mr. Biggs, prosecutors called him “a vocal leader and influential proponent of the group’s shift toward political violence.”

Proud Boys members Zachary Rehl, left, and Ethan Nordean, right, walk toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

“More than perhaps any other, Biggs appreciated the tactical advantage that his force had that day, and he understood the significance of his actions against his own government,” prosecutors wrote. “Biggs understood that the outnumbered forces attempting to hold the Capitol would be powerless due to his side’s overwhelming numbers.”

Biggs’s guidelines range—after the application of the adjustment for Biggs’s crime of terrorism—rightly reflects the seriousness of his assault on our government and Biggs’s leading role in it,” prosecutors wrote. “Biggs’s conduct warrants a sentence of 33 years of incarceration.”

Prosecutors said Mr. Biggs and his co-defendants felt they were leading a second American revolution.

Biggs arrived at the Capitol to lead a revolution against a government that he viewed as illegitimate,” prosecutors wrote. “Like [Enrique] Tarrio and [Ethan] Nordean, Biggs viewed himself and his movement as a second American revolution where he and the other ‘patriots’ would retake the government by force.”

Prosecutors said Mr. Biggs—perhaps more than any other defendant—”promoted the use of force against the government.”

“Beginning in the days after the election, Biggs declared that the country could face ‘civil war’ because the ‘left’ was ‘radicalizing people by stealing [the] election,’” prosecutors wrote. “Biggs told his followers that it was ‘time for [expletive] War if they steal this [expletive].’ … Biggs steadily escalated his calls for political violence.”

Judge Kelly’s sentence continued a trend that started with Oath Keepers defendants by doling out prison terms far short of those sought by the DOJ. In July, federal prosecutors appealed eight sentences given out by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta.

Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio had been scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 30, but his sentencing hearing was moved to Sept. 5 when Judge Kelly became ill.

The sentencing of Proud Boys defendant Ethan Nordean was moved to Sept. 1 in Judge Kelly’s courtroom. Zachary Rehl was set for an Aug. 31 sentencing, and defendant Dominic Pezzola will be sentenced on Sept. 1.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/31/2023 – 18:40

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Why Won’t COVID Lockdown Tyrants Admit They Were Wrong?

Why Won’t COVID Lockdown Tyrants Admit They Were Wrong?

Authored by Stephen Moore via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

COVID mania just won’t go away. The deadly strains of the virus have been gone for two years now, and yet the recent outbreak of a mild flu-like variant is again stoking panic on the Left.

People wear masks in Times Square, NYC, on June 8, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Nearly 100 universities are requiring masks this fall.

Lionsgate movie studios in Los Angeles and Atlanta-based Morris Brown College this week stated they are reinstating not just mask mandates but social distancing measures and contact tracing.

CNN, which led the panic in 2020 and 2021—causing manic school, restaurant, and business shutdowns and vaccine mandates—recently put out a headline on its website that encouraged its readers not to go outside without a mask on. Really? The latest evidence finds this is less dangerous than a normal flu virus and tracking data suggest that the wave has already peaked.

What’s even more disturbing here is that the leftist medical community and the media aren’t renouncing their calls for mitigation strategies that were catastrophically wrong in the panic era of 2020 and 2021—but instead calling for more of these assaults on freedom in the future.

It is one thing for well-meaning medical experts to have disagreed about how to best combat a once-in-a-half-century deadly virus. We didn’t know exactly what we were dealing with. But now we know with concrete scientific evidence that most mandates and lockdowns had a small impact on the spread of the virus and on fatalities. It turns out there was almost no difference in death rates in states with strict lockdowns and no lockdowns at all. The same is true of cross-country evidence.

Healthy children were never at risk from COVID (something we knew early on), so shutting down schools for one or two years was a sop to the teachers unions but a disaster for this generation of kids. Test scores are the worst in 30 years.

Before the pandemic, only 15 percent of public school students were chronically absent—more than 18 or more days a year.

Stanford University education professor Thomas Dee’s data shows an estimated 6.5 million additional students are now chronically absent. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, chronic absenteeism remains double its pre-pandemic rate.

But polls show that Democrats—even those that are highly educated—generally still support the lockdowns that were mandated. These are the same people who lecture about “following the science.” The most comprehensive study by experts at Johns Hopkins University found death rates from lockdowns were reduced by 0.1 percent. But how many people died from the isolation of lockdowns, delayed health screening from cancer, the increase in drug overdoses?

Biden’s vaccine mandates only made Americans more resistant to get pricked. They backfired.

Worst of all, Anthony Fauci, who remains a hero of the Left, recently not only refused to admit the errors of his advice but said the “lockdown was absolutely justified.”

Why does this bizarre rewrite of recent history matter? Because the fearmongering Left can’t wait to install new lockdowns every time we have a new flu virus and health scare. They’ve even started putting out feelers for occasional climate change economic shutdowns.

Those who love freedom must strenuously resist this coming tyranny.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/31/2023 – 18:20

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Open Border Blowback: Report Warns “Cartel-Run Theft Rings” Supercharge America’s Retail Shrink Epidemic

Open Border Blowback: Report Warns “Cartel-Run Theft Rings” Supercharge America’s Retail Shrink Epidemic

In a shocking but not surprising twist, a new report reveals a Mexican cartel connection in America’s retail theft epidemic that cost companies like Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Home Depot, and Foot Locker, among others, $100 billion last year. Amid the chatter on earnings calls, the number of times CEOs mentioned “shrink” – the loss of inventory due to circumstances such as retail theft – surged to a record high. Yet again, this is another consequence of failed open border policies pushed by radicals in the Biden administration that flooded the nation with millions of illegal aliens. 

We’ve all seen the videos posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, of masked criminals raiding retailers. Now, the Washington Examiner explains some of those thieves are tied to Mexican cartels:

Mexican cartels are behind the spike in organized retail crime and are deeply entrenched in every level of the process, according to the federal government’s chief investigative agency.

Retailers nationwide sustained nearly $100 billion worth of losses in 2021, the highest year on record, according to the National Retail Federation report published in September 2022. The growing number of cartel-run theft rings around the country drove that figure up from $70 billion in 2019.

“Organized retail crime exploded over the last few years as criminals exploited the anonymity of third-party online marketplaces to fence billions in stolen products,” RILA Senior Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Michael Hanson said in a statement.

Cartels appear to have big presence in Democrat-controlled cities. 

One reason for the explosion is those criminal gang units are emboldened by failed social justice reform pushed by radical leftists in crime-ridden metro areas, such as ones in San Francisco, where shoplifting merchandise valued under $950 is now only a misdemeanor. Cartels recognized this opportunity: 

These retail crimes are perpetrated by people who work as part of a crime ring run by cartels. In recent years, cartels have gone from illicit drug manufacturing and smuggling, human smuggling and trafficking, and illegal firearm smuggling to commandeering crime in the retail environment.

Cartels are involved in every level of retail crime, from in-store theft and listing items in online marketplaces to shipping stolen merchandise worldwide and using US financial institutions to hold their profits. –Washington Examiner 

Texas alleges that Biden’s open borders have flooded the nation with 6 million- more than the total population of Denmark or Finland or Norway Or New Zeland or Costa Rica- since he first took office in early 2021.

Still to this day, the Biden administration, with no regard for the safety of its own taxpayers, continues to flood the nation with illegals ahead of the 2024 presidential election cycle. The latest stunt was welding border gates wide open

Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/31/2023 – 18:00

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Trump Open To Ramaswamy As Vice President: “I Think He’s Great”

Trump Open To Ramaswamy As Vice President: “I Think He’s Great”

Authored by Caden Pearson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised GOP candidate Vivek Ramaswamy when asked if he would consider the 38-year-old biotech engineer as a running mate.

Former President Donald Trump speaks to members of the Alabama GOP during their summer meeting in Montgomery, Ala., on Aug. 4, 2023. (Julie Bennett/Getty Images)

“I think he’s great,” President Trump told conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. “Look, anybody that’s said I’m the best president in  a generation … and he said it a couple of times … I have to like a guy like that.

During the interview, President Trump openly discussed his thoughts on the presidential candidacy of Mr. Ramaswamy, indicating his receptiveness to a youthful and comparatively unestablished candidate who could bring a fresh perspective to Washington.

President Trump, considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, described Mr. Ramaswamy as “smart,” “young,” and “got a lot of talent.”

When asked about the possibility of a “Vice President Ramaswamy,” President Trump responded affirmatively, saying, “He’s a very, very, very intelligent person. He’s got good energy, and he could be some form of something. I tell you, I think he’d be very good. I think he’s very good. I think he’s really distinguished himself.”

The timing of President Trump’s remarks is noteworthy, as they come shortly after the first GOP debate, where he opted not to participate but pledged to observe for potential vice presidential contenders.

The former president’s interest in Mr. Ramaswamy adds a layer of intrigue to the unfolding political landscape, especially given Mr. Ramaswamy’s rapid rise from an unknown long-shot candidate with a mere 1 percent polling support to a serious contender who has been attracting attention from prominent GOP figures.

While President Trump has signaled his appreciation for Mr. Ramaswamy’s potential as a running mate, he also voiced some caution regarding the entrepreneur’s tendency to court controversy. In the same interview, President Trump expressed advice for Mr. Ramaswamy to exercise discretion.

He’s starting to get out there a little bit. He’s getting a little bit controversial. I got to tell him to be a little bit careful. Some things you have to hold in just a little bit, right?” President Trump said. “But he’s got a lot of good energy.”

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 12, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Despite President Trump’s praise, Mr. Ramaswamy has previously told NewsNation that he would not accept being the former president’s vice president.

I don’t do well in a No. 2, so I’d be about as likely to accept it as he would be to accept my offer to be my vice president,” Mr. Ramaswamy said earlier this month. “It’s a ‘no.’”

Other GOP contenders have criticized Mr. Ramaswamy, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Ms. Haley sparred with him during the GOP primary debate, challenging his foreign policy experience. Former Vice President Mike Pence has criticized Mr. Ramaswamy’s age and foreign policy stances.

I think there’s a great deal of alignment between my former running mate and Vivek and so for my part, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised that he’s been complimentary of him in that way,” Mr. Pence said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Mr. Christie has described Mr. Ramaswamy as the “worst of what politicians are characterized to be.” Mr. Christie took aim at Mr. Ramaswamy for saying “one thing” but doing another.

“And then when you call them, like I did, on the negative things he said about Donald Trump on Jan. 6, in his book, he didn’t say it,” Mr. Christie told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“If you believe Donald Trump was the greatest president of the 21th century, which is what Vivek said on the stage, then what the hell are you doing running against him?” he added. “The fact is that Vivek says one thing, does another.”

Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/31/2023 – 17:40

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Gold Is Natural Money; Fiat Is Fake

Gold Is Natural Money; Fiat Is Fake

Authored by Michael Maharrey via,

Gold is nature’s money.

Aristotle listed four characteristics of sound money: it must be durable, portable, divisible, and have intrinsic value. Gold possesses all of these characteristics, which is why gold has served as money for thousands of years.

As Goldmoney founder James Turk put it in an article published by the Mises Wire:

Every natural element with which the earth has been endowed has a usefulness—a purpose. If we listen to gold, its message is loud and clear—gold is money. To serve as natural money is gold’s highest purpose.”

Modern financial systems spurn gold. Governments need central banks to create money (inflation) and manipulate interest rates (the cost of money) to prop up their borrowing and spending. The kind of spending and accompanying budget deficits we see in the US wouldn’t be possible if the Federal Reserve was not keeping interest rates lower than they otherwise would and monetizing the debt through QE.

But even as governments devalue their fiat currencies, gold maintains its purchasing power over time. Consider this: an ounce of gold buys the same amount of oil as it did 70 years ago.

As Turk put it, “Gold preserves purchasing power, which is one of the key requisites of money. As illustrated by the above chart, it is an outcome that no national currency can match.”

Sound money also enables sound economic calculation. As Turk explains, this is only possible “using a consistent, unchanging unit of account to measure prices over time.”

Gold serves this role perfectly because it is the only element in the known universe that is eternal and not subject to decay or degradation. A gram of gold today is identical to a gram of gold mined by the Romans.”

One important characteristic of sound money is that its stock remains relatively constant. Somewhat surprisingly, Turk asserts, “Gold is not valuable because it is rare.”

Plenty of gold exists that has yet to be mined on land, under the oceans, and even extracted from ocean water when the technologies become available to make that mining possible. Gold is valuable because it is useful but mined—produced—only when it is profitable to do so, which depends on how gold has been dispersed in the earth’s crust when combined with humanity’s ability, financial capacity, and available technology needed to discover, mine, and refine it.”

The amount of mined gold has grown over the years, but it has expanded at a relatively consistent rate. According to Turk, the average annual rate over the last 529 years is 1.2%. Since 1960 the average growth in the gold stock is 1.8%, ranging from 1.4% to 2.2%.

Compare that to the stock of dollars. Since 1960, money supply growth varied from a low of 1% in 1993 to a high of 19.1% in 2020. As a result, “this inconsistency results in swings in the dollar stock that in turn causes volatility in prices expressed in dollars because there are not enough or too many dollars circulating relative to the prevailing level of economic activity.”

Economist Milton Friedman developed the k-percent rule. In a nutshell, he postulated that the quantity of currency should increase by a constant percentage rate every year, irrespective of bank credit cycles. As Turk explains, gold comes closer than any central bank-managed currency to fulfilling this rule.

The gold stock grows at approximately the same rate as world population and new wealth creation. Consequently, the purchasing power arising from the interaction of gold’s supply—its aboveground stock—and the unfailing inelastic demand for gold that exists because it is money, make gold uniquely useful to accurately calculate the price of goods and services throughout time. It is a feature that the dollar and other national currencies fail to match because their annual growth rates are not consistent, causing fluctuations in their “aboveground” stock. Since 1950 the weight of the gold stock has grown 3.5 times, but a gram of gold still purchases the same amount of crude oil.”

Significantly, gold doesn’t require “management” by central bankers. Experience teaches us that currency management always creates artificial booms rife with malinvestments and misallocations. This inevitably leads to busts.

Recurring bank and currency crises throughout history result from human error and other human frailties that inevitably destroy fiat currency, like the unwillingness to “take away the punchbowl” after a period of prolonged credit expansion. Gold is different. Gold does not need management by a central bank or government. Gold is money that manages itself because growth in the gold stock is controlled by two immutable forces—nature and profitable mining. Together they impose discipline on the production of gold that prevents the money punchbowl from overflowing, which is a key factor explaining why gold preserves purchasing power over time.”

Turk goes on to assert that “the timeless reliability in the interconnection of gold’s supply and demand sets gold apart from national currencies as does its essential nature.”

Gold is tangible; national currencies are intangible financial promises with counterparty risk. This risk arises because promises do get broken, as was demonstrated in the 2008 financial crisis and countless other banking and fiat currency crises. Gold is natural money that has served humanity well throughout history by enabling people to achieve an ever-higher standard of living. We can ponder whether this outcome results from fortuitous chance or from the intelligent design of a creator endowing the earth’s resources providentially to equip humanity with natural money. Regardless of gold’s origin, which is unknowable, it cannot be denied that gold is money and is as useful today as at any time in history.”

Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/31/2023 – 17:00

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What Rescheduling Marijuana Would and Wouldn’t Do

Rescheduling marijuana would facilitate medical research and reduce taxes on state-licensed suppliers. | MIS Photography

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week recommended that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) move marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive category, to Schedule III, where it would join medications such as Tylenol with codeine, buprenorphine, and anabolic steroids. The DEA has the final say on rescheduling decisions, and it is not clear whether it will agree with HHS, especially given its longstanding opposition to reclassifying marijuana, or how long it might take to decide. But if cannabis is eventually moved to Schedule III, that change would signal a new understanding of the drug’s risks and benefits. It also would facilitate cannabis research, and it would have important tax implications for state-licensed marijuana businesses. At the same time, it would leave federal marijuana prohibition essentially untouched.

The HHS recommendation is a product of the regulatory review that President Joe Biden ordered last October, when he also announced a mass pardon for people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law. At the time, Biden said “it makes no sense” to “classify marijuana at the same level as heroin,” and HHS evidently agrees. That category, which also includes psychoactive substances such as LSD, psilocybin, peyote, MDMA, and methaqualone, supposedly is reserved for drugs with a “high abuse potential” that have no recognized medical use and cannot be used safely even under a doctor’s supervision.

“Abuse potential” is in the eye of the beholder. As the DEA tautologically sees it, any use of a prohibited drug is “abuse” by definition. But the notion that marijuana is so dangerous that it cannot be safely used “under medical supervision” is pretty perplexing, given that its side effects compare favorably to those of many prescription drugs. The idea that marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use in the United States” likewise is hard to reconcile with reality.

Way back in 1985, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Marinol (a.k.a. dronabinol)—a synthetic version of THC, marijuana’s main active ingredient—as a treatment for the nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy. It later expanded that approval to include AIDS wasting syndrome. Five years ago, the FDA approved Epidiolex, which contains cannabis-derived CBD, as a treatment for two forms of severe, drug-resistant epilepsy.

Many studies indicate that marijuana is effective at relieving various symptoms, including neuropathic pain and muscle spasms as well as nausea and epileptic seizures. Based on such findings, 38 states allow medical use of cannabis.

By moving marijuana to Schedule III, which is the same category to which THC products like Marinol have been assigned, the DEA would be deciding that cannabis has “a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II,” although “abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” The DEA also would be recognizing that marijuana has medical applications, although it still could not be legally used except in the form of an FDA-approved product available only by prescription.

Rescheduling marijuana would make it easier to conduct the sort of research that might pave the way to winning FDA approval of specific cannabis-based medications. Marijuana’s Schedule I status entails special regulatory requirements that create hassles for scientists.

“The biggest obstacle, at least historically, to doing research on marijuana to prove its medical benefit is that it’s in Schedule I,” Dan Riffle, then director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, told me in 2014. “So you had that Catch-22, where marijuana is a Schedule I drug because there’s no evidence, and there’s no evidence because marijuana is a Schedule I drug.”

The late Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon, co-author of Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine and a leading expert on cannabis, agreed that marijuana’s Schedule I status had impeded research. “Since 1970,” he said, “it has been the major reason why the kinds of large double-blind studies which have been the basis for FDA approval of medicines since the mid-1960s have been impossible to pursue in this country.” Dale Gieringer, who runs the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, noted that “there are very burdensome registration requirements and regulations regarding Schedule I substances.” Although “most of them also apply to Schedule II,” he said, they do not apply to substances in Schedules III through V.

“The moment that a drug gets a Schedule I [designation], which is done in order to protect the public so that they don’t get exposed to it, it makes research much harder,” National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, whose agency participated in the HHS review, noted during congressional testimony in 2019. “This is because [researchers] actually have to through a registration process that is actually lengthy and cumbersome.”

Another immediate effect of designating marijuana as a Schedule III drug would be felt by businesses that sell cannabis products in compliance with state law. Under Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, a provision aimed at illegal drug traffickers, those suppliers are not allowed to deduct standard business expenses when they file their federal tax returns—although, counterintuitively, they can deduct the “cost of goods sold,” meaning that marijuana itself is deductible, while all the other expenses associated with selling it, such as rent and payroll, are not.

The upshot is that marijuana businesses can owe money to the IRS even when they don’t turn a profit, while those that do make money are subject to much higher effective tax rates than other businesses are. In one hypothetical example offered by the cannabis consulting firm Greenleaf HR, an ordinary business pays an effective tax of 30 percent, while a marijuana business with the same gross income and expenses pays an effective tax of 70 percent.

Crucially, Section 280E applies only to businesses that sell drugs in Schedule I or Schedule II (which includes many prescription opioids, along with cocaine, amphetamines, Ritalin, and some barbiturates). If cannabis becomes a Schedule III drug, marijuana merchants will be able to claim the same tax deductions as other businesses.

“I cannot emphasize enough that removal of § 280E would change the industry forever,” cannabis lawyer Vince Sliwoski writes. “Having worked with cannabis businesses for 13 years, I view taxation as the largest affront to marijuana businesses—more than banking access, intellectual property protection problems, lack of bankruptcy, you name it. This would be HUGE.” In addition to making it much easier to turn a profit, he says, the tax change would help attract investors and give marijuana businesses “more leverage” in negotiating those deals.

Despite that big benefit, marijuana merchants would still be breaking federal law every day because they would still be selling a controlled substance without federal approval. Although CNN suggests that rescheduling marijuana would “allow cannabis businesses to bank more freely and openly,” financial institutions that are leery of serving the industry because it is illegal probably would not be much more enthusiastic when it is still illegal but subject to less severe criminal penalties. They still would face the risk of charges such as money laundering, and they still could be subject to civil forfeiture and potentially devastating regulatory penalties.

“The banking thing will not be fixed,” Sliwoski notes. “At Schedule III, marijuana would still be a controlled substance and state-licensed businesses would still be ‘trafficking’ in a controlled substance, contrary to federal law. As someone who has advised many banks and credit unions on cannabis…I’m here to tell you that the analysis for financial institutions won’t fundamentally change.”

The SAFE Banking Act, which would remove the threat of those consequences for banks that serve state-licensed marijuana businesses, is one way to address that problem, which has resulted in a heavy reliance on cash that invites sometimes-lethal robberies. A better way would be to repeal the federal ban on marijuana by descheduling the drug instead of merely moving it to a different, somewhat less illegal category.

That reform, which two-thirds of Americans support, would simultaneously address all the other hazards caused by the conflict between federal prohibition and state marijuana laws, including the laws that allow recreational as well as medical use in 23 states. Marijuana then would have the same status as alcohol and tobacco, widely used recreational intoxicants that are not considered “controlled” substances at all.

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Proud Boys Leader Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison Over January 6 Riot

Joe Biggs, Proud Boys | Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire DFP

For the Proud Boys, the hammer has fallen. Joe Biggs, a leader of the far-right male  organization, received a 17-year sentence for his activities during the January 6 Capitol riot in 2021. Enrique Tarrio, the group’s chairman, is still awaiting sentencing but was similarly convicted of sedition, conspiracy to obstruct the 2020 election’s certification, and other serious crimes earlier this year.

While 17 years constitutes a lengthy prison sentence, it is considerably shorter than what the government requested: Prosecutors wanted 33 years for Biggs. That’s in keeping with the government’s view that Biggs committed an act of terrorism; the prosecution asked U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly to apply a terrorism enhancement to the sentence.

“Biggs committed a crime of terrorism on January 6, and the Court should not hesitate to impose a sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crime and its threat to our nation—as reflected in the Sentencing Guidelines,” wrote the prosecutors in their sentencing recommendation document.

In court, prosecutors argued that Biggs’ actions certainly constituted terrorism because, though January 6 did not involve widespread destruction—exploding buildings, massive casualties—its impact on the nation’s collective scarring is like that of a terrorist attack, they said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough argued that the psychological fallout from January 6 is “no different than the act of a spectacular bombing of a building.”

The judge quibbled slightly with this argument—accusing prosecutors of “overstat[ing]” their case—but ultimately agreed in principle that “while blowing up a building in some city somewhere is a very bad act… the constitutional moment we were in that day is something that is so sensitive that it deserves a significant sentence.”

This does not seem overly scientific. Prosecutors said Biggs committed an act of terrorism akin to blowing up a building and that he should get 33 years in prison. The judge said, Well that’s sort of an exaggeration, so… how about half that many years?

Biggs and other January 6 participants undoubtedly committed crimes—vandalism, trespassing, and in some cases, violence against police officers. They should be held accountable for the mayhem that they caused. But prosecutors who implicitly accuse them of staging something along the lines of another 9/11 have gotten over their skis. Many Americans have deep embarrassment over the spectacle of January 6, and rightly so; they do not consider the riot to be anywhere near as serious as a blown-up building.

The government came down extra hard on Biggs because he is a leader of the Proud Boys, and also because he has military training; he should have known, prosecutors argued, that he was in a unique position to actually provoke violence and destruction as he led the crowd to the barricades and tore down parts of the fencing.

Again, he inarguably committed crimes and must face the consequences. But rounding up his actions to terrorism is frankly giving the Proud Boys’ plans more credit than they deserve. Broken windows and defiled desks were never going to prevent Joe Biden from taking office. If there was a conspiracy to steal the election, it unfolded in the weeks leading up to January 6, as President Donald Trump and his acolytes allegedly attempted to interfere with electoral processes underway in the states.

What occurred on January 6 was a largely spontaneous burst of property destruction and limited violence that interrupted Congress’ certification of the votes—a riot, not a planned insurrection. As Reason‘s Jacob Sullum wrote when Biggs and Tarrio were first convicted, the term insurrection “implies a level of planning and organization that does not fit the chaotic reality of what happened that day.”

Seventeen years is an extremely long time in prison; only the worst of the worst, the most dangerous and irredeemable sort of people, deserve to languish for such a time. It does the country no good to pretend that what transpired on January 6 was a terrorist attack, highly and effectively organized by a paramilitary group, that came within striking distance of actually preventing the peaceful transfer of power.

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The High Costs of Biden’s Price-Controlled Drugs

A roll of cash next to a spilled bottle of pills | Julia Sudnitskaya |

Government-imposed price controls on goods and services always lead to shortages. For example, economic research has consistently shown that rent control results in less new housing construction. The Biden administration’s imposition of price caps on prescription drugs under the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will result in much the same thing: fewer new cures developed.

The IRA gives the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to negotiate prices on select prescription drugs covered under Part B and Part D of Medicare. The government’s “negotiated” prices actually amount to little more than extortion. If a pharmaceutical manufacturer does not comply with the government’s negotiated price, it faces a choice between an excise tax that eventually rises to 95 percent of its product’s sales in the U.S. or the withdrawal of all of its drugs from Medicare coverage.

The IRA directs HHS to negotiate prices for 10 drugs in 2026, 15 drugs in 2027, 15 more in 2028, and 20 drugs in 2029 and every year afterward. HHS will publish the list of maximum fair prices for these drugs two years before the prices go into effect.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration revealed the first 10 drugs that would be subject to government negotiation. They include the blood thinner Eliquis, the diabetes drug Jardiance, and the rheumatoid arthritis treatment Enbrel. In his statement, President Joe Biden cited an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that drug price negotiations and inflation rebates will save taxpayers $160 billion by 2031 What he did not mention are the costs of more disease and death the price controls will cause as they slow the development of new pharmaceuticals.

A 2016 econometric study in Forum for Health Economics and Policy evaluated the long-term impact of price controls in Medicare Part D. Applying Veterans Health Administration drug pricing policies to Medicare, a team of researchers from the private health consultancy firm Precision Health Economics calculated that it would “save between $0.1 trillion and $0.3 trillion (US$2015) in lifetime drug spending for people born in 1949–2005.” On the other hand, lower revenues for drug manufacturers would mean that they invest less in new pharmaceutical discovery and development. New drug introductions would fall by as much as 25 percent relative to the status quo, according to the researchers. As a consequence, they report, “life expectancy for the cohort born in 1991–1995 is reduced by almost 2 years relative to the status quo. Overall, we find that price controls would reduce lifetime welfare by $5.7 to $13.3 trillion (US$2015) for the US population born in 1949–2005.” Allegedly “saving” $160 billion over the next 10 years doesn’t look so good now, does it?

In their 2021 University of Chicago working paper, economists Tomas J. Philipson and Troy Durie analyzed how price controls proposed in the earlier and somewhat more stringent Lower Drug Costs Now Act would impact medical innovation. They calculated that the proposed drug price controls would lead to a 44.6 percent decline in pharmaceutical company research and development and 254 fewer new drug approvals between 2021 and 2039. They note that an earlier Council of Economic Advisers’ analysis calculated, owing to the reduction of new drug introductions stemming from the proposed price controls, that 100 fewer new drugs would be developed, resulting in a loss of between 37.5 million to 100 million life-years by 2029 for Americans. For comparison, a team of researchers estimated in 2022 that the COVID-19 pandemic had by then resulted in the loss of 9.7 million life-years in the U.S.

An obviously self-interested survey by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America found that IRA drug price controls were already impacting its members’ research and development decisions. Specifically, 78 percent are expected to cancel early-stage pipeline projects; 63 percent planned to shift research and development away from small molecule medicines; and 95 percent are expected to develop fewer new uses for medicines because of the limited time available before being subject to government price setting.

The shift away from research and development on small molecule drugs (basically pills) occurs in part because the IRA grants only nine years before price controls can be imposed on them, whereas biologics (basically injectables) get 13 years. Also, drug companies would heretofore often introduce new drugs to relatively small patient populations, e.g., those with rare diseases or late-stage illnesses, while continuing to research their efficacy for larger ones. Doing that now would start the nine-year countdown to price controls, so companies will likely delay introducing new drugs while they seek to identify the largest and most lucrative patient population.

The upshot: While the new price controls will make some drugs cheaper in the short run, Americans will be sicker and deader in the long run than they otherwise would have been.

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Banks’ Usage Of The Fed’s Emergency Facility Hits New Record High As Money-Market Fund Inflows Resume

Banks’ Usage Of The Fed’s Emergency Facility Hits New Record High As Money-Market Fund Inflows Resume

After last week’s brief (and small) dip, US money-market funds saw inflows once again last week, adding $14.4BN to reach a new record high of $5.5TN

Source: Bloomberg

Retail funds saw inflows for the 19th straight month (+3.5BN) and Institutional funds returned to inflows (+10.9BN) after a $10.1BN outflow last week…

Source: Bloomberg

Although bank deposits did see significant outflows last week, the decoupling between money-market fund inflows and bank deposits continues…

Source: Bloomberg

The Fed’s balance sheet shrank by $17.75BN last week to its lowest sicne July 2021…

Source: Bloomberg

The Fed’s QT continues with $13.9BN of securities sold last week to its lowest level since June 2021…

Source: Bloomberg

Usage of The Fed’s emergency funding facility for banks reached a new record high of $108BN (up $144MN last week)…

Source: Bloomberg

Breaking down the details of the H/4/1…

  • MBS down $24BN as a result of QT

  • Discount window usage up $700MM to $2.9BN

  • BTFP up $150MM to $107.5BN, new record high

  • Other credit extensions (FDIC loans) down $2.8BN to $134.4BN

Finally, while US equity markets were lower in August, they remain notably divergent from their historical relationship with bank reserves at The Fed…

Source: Bloomberg

We leave you with one thought – in 6 months and counting, America’s ‘smaller’ banks will need to find that $100-billion plus from somewhere as that is when the BTFP bailout program ends (theoretically). Will regional bank balance sheets be stabilized by then? They better hope for a serious recession to smash yields back down (and TSY prices up).

Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/31/2023 – 16:41

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

From One Unapologetic Media Hoax To The Next

From One Unapologetic Media Hoax To The Next

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via American Greatness,

Joe Biden lied repeatedly when he claimed he knew nothing of his son Hunter’s influence-peddling businesses.

The President further prevaricated that he had no involvement in Hunter’s various shake down schemes.

Yet, the media continued to misinform by serially ignoring these facts.

Had journalists just been honest and independent, then candidate Joe Biden might have lost a presidential debate and even the 2020 election. The public would have learned that Hunter’s business associates and his laptop proved Joe was deeply involved in his son’s illicit businesses.

Later, as the evidence from IRS whistleblowers mounted, the White House stonewalled subpoenaed efforts and sought to craft an outrageous plea deal reduction in Hunter’s legal exposure.

Reporters ignored the Ukrainians who claimed Joe Biden himself talked to them about quid pro quo arrangements.

They again discounted Hunter’s laptop that explicitly demonstrated that Hunter was whining that he had handed over large percentages of his income to his father Joe—variously referred to as the Big Guy and a “ten percent” recipient on many deals.

They played dumb about Joe Biden’s use of pseudonyms and alias email accounts to hide thousands of his communications to Hunter and associates.

They attacked the former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who now claims Biden was likely bribed by Ukrainians.

Yet the media can no longer hide the reality that the President of the United States likely took bribes to influence or alter U.S. policy to suit his payers. Those two crimes—bribery and treason—are specifically delineated in the Constitution as impeachable offenses.

In denial, the media has instead pivoted with hysterical glee over various weaponized prosecutions of Donald Trump.

But now, to use a progressive catchphrase, the proverbial “walls are closing in” on Joe Biden.

So will we at last expect the media finally to confront the truth?

Answer—only if Joe Biden’s cognitive and physical health continues to deteriorate geometrically to the point that he can no longer finish his term or run for reelection—and thus becomes expendable.

Such a cynical view of the media is justified given their record of both incompetence and unapologetic deceit.

From 2015 to 2019, we were suffocated 24/7 with lies like “Russian collusion,” “Putin’s puppet,” “election rigging” and the “Steele dossier.”

When all such “evidence” was proven to be a complete fraud cooked up through Hillary Clinton’s stealthy hiring of and collusion with a discredited ex-British spy, a Russian fabulist at the Brookings Institution and a Clinton toady in Moscow, did the media apologize for their untruth?

Was there any media confessional that perhaps Robert Mueller and his leftwing legal team (the giddy media-dubbed “all-stars,”  “dream team,” and “hunter killers”) proved a colossal waste of time?

Not at all.

Instead, the media went next right on to “the phone call” and “impeachment.”

The country then wasted another year.

The same biased reporters now claimed that the heroic Andrew Vindman had caught Donald Trump fabricating lies about the Bidens—given Joe Biden was a possible 2020 opponent—to force Ukraine to investigate them or lose American foreign aid.

On that accusation Trump was impeached.

Then the truth emerged that unlike Joe Biden, Trump never threatened to cancel aid, but merely to delay it.

Trump was right that the Bidens were knee deep in Ukrainian bribes and influence peddling.

And that the whistleblower had no first-hand knowledge of the Trump call but was spoon fed a script cooked up by the gadfly Vindman and Rep. Adam Schiff.

The result was journalistic glee that we impeached a president for crimes that he did not commit but exempted another president, Joe Biden, who had actually committed them.

Then came the next hoax of the Russian fabricated facsimile of Hunter’s laptop.

The 2020 Biden campaign along with an ex-CIA head rounded up “51 intelligence authorities” to mislead the country into believing that Russian gremlins in the Kremlin had fabricated a fake laptop.

Ponder that absurd fantasy: Moscow supposedly had created fake nude pictures, fake photos of Hunter’s drug use, and fake email and text messages from Hunter to the other Bidens.

The media preposterously convinced the country that the Russians and by extension Donald Trump had once again sandbagged the Biden campaign.

No apologies followed when the FBI later admitted it had kept the laptop under wraps for more than a year, knew it was authentic, and yet said nothing as the media and former spooks misled the country and warped an election.

Now we are enmeshed in at least four court trials on cooked-up charges that could as easily apply to a host of Democrats as to Trump.

For the last eight years, a discredited media has never expressed remorse for any of the damage they did to the country. And they will not again, when their latest mythological indictments are eventually exposed.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 08/31/2023 – 16:20

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden