Modi First, Scholz Worst: Ranking The Approval Ratings Of World Leaders

Modi First, Scholz Worst: Ranking The Approval Ratings Of World Leaders

What are the approval ratings of world leaders in 2024? 

Morning Consult set out to answer the question, surveying people from 15 major countries around the world, and Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routley created the inforgrahic below to show the worst (Germany’s Scholz) and the first (India’s Modi)…

Figures in the dataset are rounded for simplicity. Data was collected from December 13, 2023 to January 2, 2024. Approval ratings are based on a seven-day moving average of adult residents in each country, with sample sizes varying by country.

Which World Leader has the Highest Approval Rating?

As of January 2024, India’s Narendra Modi has the highest percentage of domestic approval, with over two-thirds of Indians approving of his performance.

This is no recent development, as Modi’s popularity has been consistently high for years now.

There were six total world leaders that had the plurality of respondents approve of their performance, including Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. One of the newest leaders, Poland’s Donald Tusk, also came in strong with 50% approval.

Eight countries had heads of state or government with disapproval ratings above 50%, including U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau.

Germany’s Olaf Scholz also finds himself on the low end of the list. Scholz—who succeeded Angela Merkel in 2021—hit a record low in polling at the end of 2023 with 20% approval, tied only with South Korea’s Yook Seok-youl.

And according to Morning Consult, they weren’t the world leaders with the lowest approval ratings. The full dataset of 21 countries shows that the leaders of Japan and the Czech Republic had lower total approval ratings as of the start of 2024.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/31/2024 – 18:00

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Arizona Lawmaker Introduces Bill Requiring Schools To Teach About Harms Of Communism

Arizona Lawmaker Introduces Bill Requiring Schools To Teach About Harms Of Communism

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

An Arizona state GOP lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require schools to teach about the harms of communist regimes, including such ills as poverty, suppression of speech, and systemic lethal violence.

PHOENIX, AZ – JANUARY 17: View of the Arizona State Capitol building on January 17, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered at state capitol buildings throughout the nation today to protest the presidential election results and the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

House Bill 2629, which amends parts of the Arizona Revised Statutes to bolster educational programs, includes two key parts: a mandatory classroom instruction on the ills of communism and the establishment of Nov. 7 as a commemorative “Victims of Communism Day” to be observed in Arizona public schools.

“Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year any American government course required for graduation from high school must include at least forty-five minutes of instruction on the history of communist regimes around the world and the prevalence of poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence and suppression of speech under communist regimes,” the bill’s text reads.

State Rep. Ben Toma introduced the bill on Jan. 23 in the Arizona State Legislature, where it’s scheduled for a Jan. 31 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Toma told Arizona Capital Times in an interview that being compassionate and helping the downtrodden is good, but he said communism pushes redistribution of resources at the point of a gun, a kind of “forced charity” that he said leads to slaughter.

“And, secondly, it doesn’t work in the real world,” he insisted. “It doesn’t work anywhere.”

Evils of Communism in Curriculum

The bill’s text indicates that “Victims of Communism Day” would not be a legal holiday, meaning no time off. Rather, it would be observed in schools, which would provide instruction on that day (or an alternate one if school isn’t in session on that day) on the harms of communism.

A curriculum would be developed, which would include such components as instruction on former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution in China. Under the CCP’s rule, it is estimated that between 60 million and 80 million people were killed, exceeding the total number of casualties in both World Wars combined.

Other possible choices for instruction on that day would be about Nicolás Maduro and the Chavismo movement, Joseph Stalin and the Soviet system, or Vladimir Lenin and the Russian Revolution.

Demonstrators protest against the government of Nicolás Maduro on the main avenue of Las Mercedes, municipality of Baruta, in Caracas, Venezuela, on Feb. 2, 2019. Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images

The issue is personal for Mr. Toma, whose family fled then-communist Romania when he was a child.

“It’s not just my background,” he told Arizona Capitol Times. “It’s the background of many other people including currently in China, in North Korea, Vietnam, places like that that still have communism, that still have to deal with it.

“Not to mention the amount of damage and, again, the millions or hundreds of millions that have lost their lives, or more,” he added.

A chapter on the CCP’s history of killing—which is part of a broader publication by The Epoch Times on the harms of communism, titled “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party”—discusses how killing in communist regimes has both practical and ideological roots.

“Mass murders during the Cultural Revolution established, culturally and politically, the CCP’s absolute leadership,” the publication states.

“The Tiananmen Square massacre was used to prevent political crisis and squelch democratic demands. The persecution of Falun Gong is meant to resolve the issues of belief and traditional healing,” it continues.

Communist persecution of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa—a peaceful spiritual practice—has involved various inhumane tactics, including torture, sexual abuse, and the widely condemned practice of forced organ harvesting, as outlined in a recent report.

Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to mark the 24th anniversary of the persecution of the spiritual discipline in China by the Chinese Communist Party in Washington on July 20, 2023. The pictures they are holding are of those who have been persecuted to death. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Other Anti-Communist Efforts

Besides Mr. Toma’s bill, there have been other legislative efforts to expose the harms of communism or oppose its spread in the United States.

In October 2023, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill aimed at preventing the Chinese regime from influencing the State Department.

The bill, called the No CCP Consultants Act, would prohibit the secretary of state from entering into, renewing, or extending contracts relating to “advisory and assistance services” with certain entities, including the governments of China and Russia.

“We must guard against the Chinese Communist Party and its web of espionage,” Mr. Green said in a statement to The Epoch Times on Oct. 31.

In March 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to punish communist China for its forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.

H.R. 1154, dubbed the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2023, passed by a vote of 413–2. It would sanction anyone involved in the act and require annual government reporting on such activities taking place in foreign countries.

It would also punish those found to be involved in forced organ harvesting: a civil penalty of up to $250,000 and a criminal penalty of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the principal sponsor of the bill, told The Epoch Times ahead of the floor vote that the measure’s “got real teeth” and that he hoped it would become law.

“This is an atrocity, this is a crime against humanity, and it’s a war crime, because this is a war on innocent people in China, and [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping is directly responsible. Those who willingly engage in this will be held responsible,” he said of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) speaks during a hearing about “Corporate Complicity: Subsidizing the PRC’s Human Rights Violations” in Washington on July 11, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Smith said the bill could cover anyone who participates in forced organ harvesting, including patients who receive the organs.

“If there’s willful knowledge that is being stolen from a Falun Gong practitioner, or anyone else, then they could be held criminally and civilly liable,” he said.

“How do you know on a certain date you’re going to have a liver all ready to go? That’s because they kill the individual in order to get that. They murdered them,” he added, referring to cases of Chinese hospitals promising to deliver vital organs on a specified date, a process that experts have said is impossible under voluntary organ donor programs.

Israel, Taiwan, Italy, and Spain have banned organ transplant tourism.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) were among more than a dozen lawmakers leading the measure’s companion version in the Senate.

Both measures were referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, where they remain.

Bill Boosts US-China Spending Transparency

Earlier this month, Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced legislation calling for increased transparency from the federal government regarding funds flowing to companies in China.

The bill, titled “Our Money in China Transparency Act,” requires the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies to submit annual, detailed reports regarding taxpayers’ money spent on any federal program, project, or activity related to institutions or entities associated with the Chinese regime.

“We know that Communist China does its best to hide the finances of its government and businesses from Americans,” Mr. Scott said in a statement.

The legislation also tracks federal spending on federal-funded entities, including American universities’ China-based campuses.

Aaron Pan, Eva Fu, and Andrew Moran contributed to this report.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/31/2024 – 17:40

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Atlanta Water Company Charges Contractor $30,000 For Water Usage On A Lot With No Water Line

Atlanta Water Company Charges Contractor $30,000 For Water Usage On A Lot With No Water Line

Today in ‘automation is better’ news, a contractor in Atlanta is facing a $30,000 water bill for a lot that doesn’t even have a connection to a water line.

Jeff Raw, president and CEO of Revive Construction Group said he hadn’t even started construction yet on a site in Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood when he received huge bills from Atlanta Watershed Management. 

He tried to get his bill adjusted and even went to the utility company’s appeals board, but was denied the chance to change the bill, a report from Yahoo Finance, citing a FOX 5 Atlanta investigation, said. 

“I feel like it’s extortion,” he said. “This is criminal.”

Atlanta Watershed Management set up a standalone water meter on an undeveloped plot in October 2022. Within a month, Revive Construction received a bill for $8,899, allegedly for using 305,184 gallons of water, far exceeding the EPA’s average household usage of 9,000 gallons per month.

Over five months, bills totaled $29,669.43 for over a million gallons of water, which the construction company appealed. The Atlanta Watershed Management appeals board suggested the water was used, leaked, or stolen. Raw, from Revive Construction, criticized the board, feeling accused of stealing. 

Initially, the utility company acknowledged a leak and reduced the bill to $219.29, but then reverted to the original $30,000 charge. Raw’s appeal against this decision failed, even though a senior utility employee supported his case.

As the article notes, if you’re faced with an unexpectedly high water bill, don’t rush to pay it. Instead, take steps to confirm your actual water use and address any discrepancies.

Start by comparing your water meter reading with the one on your bill. A mismatch can serve as proof in seeking a bill adjustment. If the bill is accurate, your next step is to check for leaks. Turn off all water sources and monitor the meter. If it continues to move, you likely have a leak, often found in toilets.

Prompt action is crucial in case of leaks to avoid extensive water damage and potential insurance claims, adding to your financial burden. Hiring a plumber for leak detection and repair is advisable. Keep detailed records, like the plumber’s report, to substantiate your case for a bill correction.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/31/2024 – 17:20

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Disney Can’t Prove DeSantis Retaliated Against It, Federal Judge Rules

Ron DeSantis | Brian Cahn/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom

A federal judge dismissed Disney’s lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on the grounds that the entertainment giant did not have sufficient standing to bring the First Amendment challenge.

In the lawsuit, Disney argued that DeSantis had unconstitutionally retaliated against the company by organizing a state takeover of the special taxing district that had been created in 1967 and covered the 25,000-plus acres now occupied by the Walt Disney World resort’s theme parks, hotels, and various other facilities. Disney claimed that DeSantis had engaged in a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney” in response to Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek publicly criticizing DeSantis’ approval of a law that restricted discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

In Wednesday’s ruling, federal Judge Allen Winsor wrote that Disney fell short of proving the retaliation claim. Disney, he wrote, “has not alleged any specific actions the new board took (or will take) because of the governor’s alleged control.”

In a statement, DeSantis’ spokesman Jeff Redfern said Wednesday’s ruling vindicated the governor’s view that “Disney is still just one of many corporations in the state, and they do not have a right to their own special government.”

Meanwhile, Disney has vowed to appeal the ruling. “This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here,” the company said in a statement. “If left unchallenged, this would set a dangerous precedent and give license to states to weaponize their official powers to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with.”

Indeed, DeSantis may have prevailed within the letter of the law, but there is little doubt that his actions toward Disney were a direct response to Chapek’s criticism. We know this because DeSantis has said and written as much.

“When Disney first came out against the bill…people in the legislature started floating this idea of going after Reedy Creek,” DeSantis told The American Conservative in an interview published in May. Meanwhile, DeSantis wrote extensively about his fight with Disney in his recent book, The Courage To Be Free, and leaves little doubt about how he approached the issue. In one passage, DeSantis writes that “things got worse for Disney” after the company criticized his policies. Finally, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last February, DeSantis explained that his administration’s actions toward Disney were an attempt to “fight back” against the corporation’s so-called “woke ideology” as expressed in Disney’s criticism.

Winsor says those actions don’t meet the legal standard for being unconstitutional. Fine. It’s still deeply distasteful for a governor to target a private company because its leaders dared to criticize his policy choices—and DeSantis’ handling of this situation should not become a model for other chief executives, no matter what the courts have to say about it.

The post Disney Can't Prove DeSantis Retaliated Against It, Federal Judge Rules appeared first on

from Latest

ACLU Sues Ronald McDonald House for Refusing To House People Convicted of Assault

Ronald McDonald statue | Tea/

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), and the Legal Action Center (LAC) are suing Ronald McDonald House Charities and its Hudson Valley chapter, for not providing discounted housing to people with felony assault convictions, a policy they say is a violation of the Fair Housing Act and New York human rights law.

“Government agencies have long warned housing providers that unjustified and unnecessary blanket bans from housing based on criminal history disproportionately harm Black and Latine people and are unlawful,” said Amanda Meyer, an ACLU attorney in a press release.

Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit partially funded by but distinct from the McDonald’s fast food company, runs Ronald McDonald Houses on or near hospital campuses across the country, where families with children undergoing longer-term hospitalizations can stay for a nominal sum.

The ACLU, NYCLU, and LAC are suing on behalf of New York resident Juan Mieles, whose application to stay at a Ronald McDonald House was rejected because of his criminal history.

Mieles had applied to stay at the Ronald McDonald House at the Westchester Medical Center—where his 17-year-old son was receiving cancer treatments—back in 2022. The charity rejected his application after a criminal background check turned up a 12-year-old felony assault conviction, for which he’d been incarcerated.

Mieles tried to appeal the decision, stressing the time since his conviction and the role he played in his son’s care, but the charity didn’t budge. Unable to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, Mieles instead had to drive an hour one-way from his home in Queens during his son’s six-week cancer treatment course.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities didn’t respond to Reason‘s request for comment.

His lawsuit describes this as a hardship for Mieles and his family. The complaint argues that blanket bans on people with criminal convictions are illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act.

The federal Fair Housing Act bans racial discrimination in housing provision. Subsequent fair housing case law and federal regulations have widened the definition of racial discrimination to include neutral policies that have a “disparate impact” or “discriminatory effect” on particular racial groups.

The ACLU and co. argue in their lawsuit that the Ronald McDonald House Charities’ policy on criminal convictions violates this disparate impact standard, given the higher rates at which black and “Latine” individuals are convicted of crimes.

Their lawsuit cites 2022 regulatory guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) saying that blanket bans on people with criminal convictions can violate the Fair Housing Act. HUD says that housing providers’ criminal conviction policies should, at a minimum, give room for individual assessment of the circumstances of the crime and the time elapsed since the crime.

Critics have long argued that the disparate impact standard often leaves housing providers guessing at what policies of theirs might end up being illegal.

“There’s no way to really know that you’re going to be facing potential liability down the road,” Ethan Blevins, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, told Reason last year. “It does put landlords in a really tough position, and it’s tough to know what a court will find legitimate.”

The ACLU and other fair housing groups have filed several lawsuits against housing providers for maintaining policies they say have illegal disparate impacts. Last year, the ACLU, alongside several Illinois fair housing groups, sued a Chicago-area landlord for not renting to people with past evictions.

Their lawsuit against Ronald McDonald House Charities asks that Mieles be awarded compensatory and punitive damages and that the charity stop enforcing its criminal convictions policy.

The post ACLU Sues Ronald McDonald House for Refusing To House People Convicted of Assault appeared first on

from Latest

Suddenly The News Gatekeepers Are The News

Suddenly The News Gatekeepers Are The News

Authored by Frank Miele via RealClear Wire,

The jig is up, as the bad guys used to say in the movies.

When Rachel Maddow told her MSNBC audience on the night of the Iowa Republican caucuses that she would not be showing the victory speech by decisive winner Donald Trump, I started writing this column in my head.

What arrogance, I thought. Whether MSNBC likes Trump or not, if they claim to be journalists, they can’t refuse to air obviously newsworthy events merely because it makes them unhappy. That’s not how actual journalists even think. But of course, that’s exactly what they have been doing for two decades, and CNN right alongside them. They have been the self-appointed “Gatekeepers” of news and information for their millions of viewers.

Maddow claimed that her network’s decision was not out of spite, but instead was the network not wanting to be broadcasting “untrue things” that Trump might say (and remember, he hadn’t said anything yet). But the Gatekeepers are only concerned about protecting the public from certain kinds of viewpoints. You know, the views of Republicans. They freely allow misstatements by Democrats to go unchallenged.

One blatant example occurred on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Jan. 21 when Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas said in 2020, “You had the president telling the country to inject itself with bleach to fight COVID.” Wrong! Absurd and defamatory! But the Gatekeepers allowed it to air unchallenged.

On the same program, host Dana Bash twice ruled Trump’s questioning of Nikki Haley’s constitutional eligibility to run for president to be out of bounds.

He suggested she is ineligible to be president, even though she is. She was born in your home state of South Carolina,” she told Sen. Tim Scott, but neglected to mention that both of Haley’s immigrant parents were not citizens yet.

That “suggests” that Bash doesn’t know the difference between “native born” and “natural born,” – or that Constitutional scholars debate as to why that might (or might not) be significant – and isn’t interested in learning about it. If the Framers had wanted to say that the president must be born in the United States, they could have done so by saying it directly. Instead, they said only a “natural born” citizen was eligible to be president. A few minutes’ research on the Internet will confirm that the phrase “natural born” carried a very distinct meaning when the Constitution was written – namely, someone who was born within a nation after their parents were already citizens. No court has ever resolved the meaning of the phrase as used in the Constitution, but CNN doesn’t want you to know about this debate when it can instead simply dismiss Trump as a racist or a xenophobe.

Likewise, that same morning, Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” said Trump is “spreading false birther conspiracy theories about whether she’s eligible to run, and of course she is.” The AP put out a fact check that said Haley is a natural born citizen because she is a natural born citizen. No, literally. But what none of those reports by the Gatekeepers did was actually look at the Constitution or the arguments made about why Haley is not a “natural born citizen.”

This is all based on the Fake News template that turned Trump into a criminal because he dared to question the election results in 2020. It didn’t matter how much evidence there was of election interference and unconstitutional changes in election rules in individual states. The Gatekeepers just declared claims of election fraud “the Big Lie” and almost proudly vowed never to look at the evidence. By shaming Trump and millions of others for questioning the election, they actually made it more likely that cheating will happen in future elections. After all, election challenges are now “anti-democracy” scams.

When Fox News settled a lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for three-quarters of a billion dollars, the other major media scolded Fox for having dared to question Dominion’s legitimacy and ran the story for days as a warning to others, “Stay behind the gate! Electronic voting is inviolate – because we say so.”

And the Gatekeepers are still trying desperately to hold on to power. That’s why virtually no one in the mainstream media reported on the lawsuit in Georgia where a professor of computer science was able to change the vote tally on a Dominion voting machine with the use of a simple household pen. If the Georgia secretary of state loses that lawsuit, then no one should be able to utter the phrase the Big Lie again unless they are referring to the assurances of the mainstream media that the 2020 election was the most secure in history.

Of course, the thorough trouncing of Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley by former President Trump indicates that a large swath of Americans have already turned their back on the Gatekeepers. They gravitate toward Trump specifically because he rejects the Gatekeepers – and the Gatekeepers have noticed. There is even evidence that they know they have gone too far – that you can’t label half the population of the country as an anti-democracy, pro-authoritarian cult without eventually facing a backlash.

Thus at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the unofficial capital of the global elites, there was a warning shot fired against the Gatekeepers by one of their own. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, told CNBC that Democrats and President Joe Biden ought to be “more respectful” of Trump supporters (otherwise known as MAGA voters because of Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again”).

I wish the Democrats would think a little more carefully when they talk about MAGA. … I think this negative talk about MAGA is going to hurt Biden’s election campaign,” Dimon told the progressive swells in Davos.

Dimon did what most of the Gatekeepers refuse to do. He gave the MAGA voters credit for understanding policies and voting for Trump because they agree with his results, not because they are members of a cult.

“Take a step back, be honest. He was kind of right about NATO, kind of right on immigration. He grew the economy quite well. Trade tax reform worked. He was right about some of China,” Dimon said. “He wasn’t wrong about some of these critical issues, and that’s why they voted for him.”

Hallelujah, but don’t expect either Biden or his allies in the media to take a step back and reassess their hostile, insulting approach to Trump voters. The Gatekeepers see everyone who voted for Trump as the barbarians at the gate, and they will do anything to crush them.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Just turn on “Morning Joe” any weekday from 6 to 10 a.m. Eastern Time and watch Joe Scarborough distort reality in a rear-guard action to protect the nation from a second Trump presidency. According to Scarborough, Trump desperately wants the economy to crash. According to Scarborough, Trump wants the border to stay open because it’s good politics. According to Scarborough, Trump wants to shoot his enemies on the street. And just in case you thought Joe might be making all this up, there is a panel of like-thinking leftists on the MSNBC set nodding their heads in unison and assuring Joe he’s quite the savant.

But he isn’t. He is a Deep State apparatchik who is the poster boy for the Gatekeepers. He will say anything to protect the nation from Donald Trump because he knows that Trump speaks for millions of people who are sick and tired of being told that their values, their principles, their patriotism are a danger to the country. Yes, Scarborough goes after Trump directly, but he also attacks Trump voters, as he did on Jan. 25. “If you take a step back, just looking at this politically, I just am baffled by just how stupid – baffled, baffled every day by how stupid Republicans are,” Scarborough said.

This “say-anything, fact-check-nothing” approach to bashing Trump may be the Gatekeepers’ worst nightmare as the 2024 election approaches. Because it will inflame the MAGA base to rise up and vote in record numbers to protect Trump from the attacks against him. The latest fake report is that Trump is trying to stop the toughest border security bill in history, but what “Morning Joe” and the Democrats won’t tell you is that there is no bill. The text of the supposed bill was never released during this tumult of criticism. We were just supposed to believe the Gatekeepers and shut up about it.

In conclusion, let’s turn again to Davos, where Emma Tucker, editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, told a panel at the World Economic Forum that the people are too sophisticated in the 21st century to just accept at face value hollow accusations such as those tossed around by Scarborough.

“If you go back really not that long ago, as I say, we owned the news. We were the gatekeepers, and we very much owned the facts as well,” Tucker said. “If it said it in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, then that was a fact. Nowadays, people can go to all sorts of different sources for the news, and they’re much more questioning about what we’re saying.”

That, of course, is a good thing. It’s too bad the global elites and their Gatekeepers don’t understand that.

Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His newest book, “What Matters Most: God, Country, Family and Friends,” is available from his Amazon author page. Visit him at or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter or Gettr @HeartlandDiary.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/31/2024 – 17:00

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Toyota Tells 50,000 US Owners To Stop Driving, Seek Immediate Repair

Toyota Tells 50,000 US Owners To Stop Driving, Seek Immediate Repair

Toyota Motor Corp on Monday warned 50,000 owners of older American vehicles to stop driving them immediately and seek repairs for a condition that could be deadly. Toyota asks that you don’t even drive it to the dealer, but instead make arrangements for pickup.

Once again, the danger springs from Takata airbags, more than 67,000 of which have already been recalled across 19 different manufacturers, 34 brands and model years spanning 2002 to 2015. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called that undertaking “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”

While the recall has been going on since 2016, some 11 million haven’t been replaced yet, according to Consumer Reports. Meanwhile, the US fatality count has reached 26, alongside hundreds of injuries

The latest stark warning focuses on certain 2003-2004 Corolla, 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix, and 2004-2005 RAV4 vehicles in the USA. On the RAV4, the dangerous bag is on the driver side. On the others, it’s the passengers side. Some Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles are under another recall, where they are at risk of airbags deploying outside of an accident, Reuters reports. 

The problem is getting worse over time, said Toyota in a statement, such that an airbag that deploys to save your life could instead end it: 

“Due to the age of the vehicles, if the airbag deploys, a part inside is more likely to explode and shoot sharp metal fragments which could cause SERIOUS INJURY or DEATH to the driver or passengers. Owners SHOULD NOT DRIVE these vehicles until the FREE safety recall repair has been conducted.”

You can check the status of your vehicle by entering your license plate number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at Toyota’s recall website, or by entering the VIN on the NHTSA recalls page The repair is free, and most vehicles are done in about an hour, according to Toyota. Some dealers are equipped to perform mobile repair where your vehicle is parked. 

In July, Chrysler’s parent, Stellantis, alerted the owners of 29,000 2003 Dodge Ram pickups to likewise stop driving those vehicles until their air bags were replaced. The move followed the latest American fatal rupture.  

Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/31/2024 – 16:40

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

The Era Of Easy-Money Ruined Us

The Era Of Easy-Money Ruined Us

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The rot caused by easy money will only become fully visible when the hollowed out institutions start collapsing under the weight of incompetence, debt and hubris.

We have yet to reach a full reckoning of the consequences of the era of easy money, but it’s abundantly clear that it ruined us. The damage was incremental at first, but the perverse incentives and distortions of easy money–zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP), credit available without limits to those who are more equal than others–accelerated the institutionalization of these toxic dynamics throughout the economy and society.

Fifteen long years later, the damage cannot be undone because the entire status quo is now dependent on the easy-money bubble for its survival. Should the bubbles inflated by easy money pop, the financial system and the economy will collapse into a putrid heap, undone by the perversions and distortions of endless easy money.

Easy money created destructive, mutually reinforcing distortions on multiple fronts. Let’s examine the primary ways easy money led to ruin.

1. The near-zero rate credit was distributed asymmetrically; only the wealthiest few had access to the open spigot of “free money.” The rest of us saw mortgage rates decline, but we were still paying much higher rates of interest than corporations, banks and financiers.

If we’d all been given the opportunity to borrow a couple million dollars at 1% and put the easy money into bonds yielding 2.5%, skimming a low-risk 1.5% for producing nothing, we’d have jumped on it. But that opportunity was only available to banks, the super-wealthy, corporations and financiers.

The charts below show the perverse consequences of offering the wealthiest few limitless money at near-zero rates while the rest of us paid much higher interest. The wealthiest few could buy income-producing assets on the cheap at carrying costs no ordinary investor could match. Since there was so much “free money” sloshing around for financial elites to tap, the demand for income-producing assets soared, pushing prices into the stratosphere. These enormous increases in valuation generated stupendous capital gains for the wealthiest few.

Look at 2009 as the starting point in these charts, as that’s when the Federal Reserve instituted ZIRP and opened the spigots of easy money to “those with first access,” i.e. banks, corporations and financiers.

Here we see how the assets of the top 0.1% more than tripled since 2009, far outpacing inflation.

The net worth of the top 1% went ballistic as well. Nearly free credit is rocket fuel if you’re first in line and nobody else gets the same interest rate.

The bottom 50% of American households lost ground in the era of easy money. This is not coincidence, it’s direct causation: give the lowest interest rates and unlimited credit to the wealthy, and they will buy up the most productive assets, leaving crumbs for the rest of the American citizenry.

Here’s the Fed balance sheet, the money they created out of thin air and injected into the cheap-unlimited-credit-for-the-wealthy machine.

Note how the easy money sparked federal borrowing. Federal debt was under the line of GDP expansion until 2009, at which point it took off in a parabolic ascent. Now that interest rates have finally normalized a bit, the gargantuan interest on this debt will be extracted from the citizenry via higher taxes and/or reduced federal spending. (Giveaways to wealthy political donors will of course remain untouched, along with tax havens for the super-wealthy.)

The social perversions of easy money are equally destructive. When it’s cheap and easy to borrow more money, that becomes the “obvious” way to deal with challenges. This incentivizes enterprises and institutions to advance those with skills in finance and PR rather than in management.

With the discipline imposed by the cost of money gone and the expansion of opportunities to reap fortunes by pyramiding credit and leverage, competency was redefined from management focused on increasing productivity and cutting costs through efficiencies to extracting the soaring value of existing assets: nothing new was produced but yowza, a lot of people sure got rich.

The rot created by easy money has seeped into every fiber of our social, political and economic orders. Correspondent D.T. drew a direct line between easy money and the decline of competence in The Powers That Be:

“Nepo(tism) babies selected by accident of birth without any tempering in flames… cocooned in their own reality, disdainful of the unselected, coddled and hothoused, ignorant of history and, worst of all, supremely confident in the superiority of their own righteous abilities… because when you get first dibs on the free money there are no consequences you can’t buy your way out of.”

Is there any doubt that what some are calling The Disconnected Elite (DE) have fortified their Ivy League-luxe-enclave bubbles and unearned privileges with the easy money that comes with their position atop the heap? The cost of this elevation of incompetence, the complete disconnection from the realities of everyday Americans and the hubristic confidence in their own talent–i.e., believing your own PR–has hollowed out the nation’s institutions in ways those outside the institution cannot yet observe.

The rot caused by easy money will only become fully visible when the hollowed out institutions start collapsing under the weight of incompetence, debt and hubris.

New podcast: Self Reliance (45 min).


*  *  *

Become a $1/month patron of my work via

Subscribe to my Substack for free

Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/31/2024 – 16:20

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Stocks, Bond Yields, & Bullion Puke After Powell Pummels Dovish Dreamers, Assails AI

Stocks, Bond Yields, & Bullion Puke After Powell Pummels Dovish Dreamers, Assails AI

‘Soft’ survey data continued its trend weaker…

Source: Bloomberg

And NYCB shit the bed…

Source: Bloomberg

Which is probably why The Fed culled the sentence: “The U.S. banking system is sound and resilient” from its statement!

Not a good look.

BUT… The FOMC statement was a total hawkgasm…

And the market’s initial reaction followed that guidance. Then the idiot algos bid stocks back to the highs of the day after Powell said he had “confidence” in inflation coming down (but missed the bit about him saying he needed more confidence).

Powell appeared subliminally aware of that and curb-stomped any dovish hope with the following triple-whammy:




So, no March cut, AI gains are temporary, and QT ain’t coming by March.

The doves cried…

March rate-cut odds tumbled and expectations for 2024 total cuts declined notably…

Source: Bloomberg

And the stock market went wild (as evidenced by the swings in TICK). Initial jerk lower (as selling hit in the statement) held until the presser and algos went crazy with a massive buy program… which was then crushed by a just as massive sell program…

Source: Bloomberg

Small Caps were the day’s biggest loser (down 2.5%!), with The Dow the least ugly horse in the glue factory. The S&P and Nasdaq were ugly…

As ‘most shorted’ stocks were clubbed like a baby seal. A close up on the day’s actions shows the algos doing their best to ignite a squeeze… then failing dismally…

Source: Bloomberg

And MAG7 stocks were monkeyhammered (MAG7 basket’s worst day since Dec 2022)…

Source: Bloomberg

Interestingly, 0-DTE traders fought The Fed all afternoon, with positive delta flow unable to lift stocks..

Source: SpotGamma

Treasury yields were down on the day with the short-end outperforming. The early gains on flight-to-safety bids on NYCB (and weak ADP) were largely erased by the hawkish Fed…

Source: Bloomberg

The 10Y Yield pushed back up to 4.00% towards the close but then yields puked to the lows of the day in the last few mins…

Source: Bloomberg

The yield curve (2s30s) bull-steepened on the day, back up near dis-inversion…

Source: Bloomberg

The dollar had quite a day with a plunge early on weak ADP and NYCB’s collapse. But then screamed up to the highs of the day

Source: Bloomberg

Gold was the mirror image of the dollar, ripping higher on flight-to-safety demand as NYCB imploded, then dumping back as a hawkish Fed spoiled the party…

Source: Bloomberg

Oil prices accelerated lower today on weak data, a crude build, and hawkish Fed with WTI back below $76..

Source: Bloomberg

Bitcoin ended lower – following the same kind of chaotic swings in the FX and gold…

Source: Bloomberg

And finally, we are seeing a return to notable net inflows into Bitcoin ETFs…

Source: Bloomberg

…as GBTC outflows appear to be dwindling.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/31/2024 – 16:00

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Four States Consider Lifting Taxes On Precious Metals

Four States Consider Lifting Taxes On Precious Metals


Citizens of Georgia, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Kansas may soon enjoy lower taxes on precious metals if recently introduced pro-metal bills are made law in 2024.

Earlier this month, all four states introduced or reintroduced bills that would exempt precious metals from either state sales tax (in Kentucky and Wisconsin) or state income tax (in Georgia and Kansas).

Kentucky lawmakers will vote on House Bill 101 and Senate Bill 105 in this year’s legislative session. If passed, the bills would end state sales tax on gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion starting in August of this year. Wisconsin’s Assembly Bill 29 and Senate Bill 33 would both enact similar provisions while also lifting sales tax on the purchase of copper bullion.

Proponents of these bills point out that gold and silver are one of the only asset classes that have sales taxes; investors don’t have to pay sales tax on more common investments, like stocks and bonds. The Sound Money Defense League recently elaborated on this point:

“Sales taxes are typically levied on final consumer goods. Computers, shirts, and shoes carry sales taxes because the consumer is ‘consuming’ the good. Precious metals are inherently held for resale, not ‘consumption,’ making the imposition of sales taxes on precious metals illogical from the start.”

Both Kansas and Georgia eliminated sales taxes on bullion in the past and are now taking the next logical step in facilitating the use of sound money. House Bill 895 in Georgia and House Bill 2405 and Senate Bill 303 in Kansas would lift state capital gains taxes on precious metals, leaving only the federal capital gains tax on income earned from holding gold or silver.

Kansas’ two bills also explicitly reaffirm that gold and silver are legal tender in the state and ensure physical metal can be used voluntarily as currency, establishing a relatively free market in money:

“The purchase, sale or exchange of any type or form of specie shall not give rise to any tax liability of any kind… Unless expressly provided by statute or by contract, no person shall have the right to compel any other person to tender specie or to accept specie as tender.”

Many argue income tax on precious metals constitutes a second tax on top of inflation. As Peter Schiff says, “Printing money is merely taxation in another form.” This implicit inflation tax affects everyone’s cash holdings, whether they invest in precious metals or not. Depending on where they live, anyone who earns a nominal capital gain on gold and silver can incur a second, explicit tax liability, even if their gain is only nominal.

By considering these bills, these states join the long and growing list of jurisdictions in the United States that offer some sort of tax relief for precious metals. Missouri and Oklahoma, for example, filed bills last month that would also exempt precious metals from state income tax. Oklahoma and Florida went a step further and also considered bills that would establish bullion depositories in each state, which would promote sound monetary policy at the state level.

It’s no surprise that more states are taking steps to protect their citizens from wealth-destroying monetary policy carried out by the Federal Reserve. The recent stretch of high inflation serves as a stark reminder of the centrality of money in advanced economies. When the value of money is eroded by inflationary spending and out-of-control public debt, ordinary people pay the price. Thankfully, as state laws reduce the costs of investing in precious metals, holding physical gold and silver increasingly provides a hedge against this hidden tax.

Should the bills in Kansas, Kentucky, Georgia, and Wisconsin be enacted, state lawmakers will have offered their citizens a more secure financial future.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 01/31/2024 – 15:45

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden