It’s Hard To Take Either Side in Trump’s Twitter Spat Seriously

Last Thursday the president of the United States threw a temper tantrum disguised as an executive order, threatening to punish Twitter for daring to annotate two of his comments about voting by mail. Twitter retaliated the next day, slapping a warning label on a presidential tweet about the protests triggered by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

President Donald Trump’s order was legally meaningless, aiming to increase the civil liability of disfavored social media platforms in ways that are beyond his powers and that would encourage more, not less, scrutiny of online speech. But Twitter’s sudden interest in policing the president’s claims and rhetoric was equally hard to take seriously, promising a kind of dispassionate and consistent oversight it cannot possibly achieve with Trump, let alone every public official on Earth.

Trump, as head of the federal government’s executive branch, is bound by the First Amendment. Twitter, as a private company, is not.

That remains true no matter how many times Trump calls social media platforms the “21st century equivalent of the public square,” claims to be protecting “freedom of expression” and “sustaining our democracy” by fighting “online censorship,” or asserts that he is “applying the ideals of the First Amendment.” Those Orwellian formulations are merely cover for Trump’s attempt to shape political debate by government force—exactly what the First Amendment forbids.

A politician who was committed to freedom of expression never would have issued this order. Nor would he threaten to yank the licenses of broadcasters who offend him or suggest “chang[ing] libel laws” to facilitate lawsuits by thin-skinned public figures who don’t like their press coverage.

Just last year, Trump’s lawyers were arguing that the First Amendment imposes no restrictions on his discretion to block critics from following him on Twitter, even though he uses his account to conduct government business. A federal appeals court disagreed, ruling that Trump’s use of the account for official purposes created a “public forum” where Americans have a constitutional right to debate his policies and pronouncements.

Now Trump seems to be claiming that all of Twitter is a public forum under constitutional law, giving him a First Amendment right to use it as he chooses, unconstrained by the rules that the platform’s proprietors deem appropriate. The only thread of consistency is Trump’s self-interest.

The truth is exactly the opposite of Trump’s view: The First Amendment protects Twitter’s right to restrict or comment on users’ speech. But that does not mean Twitter is exercising that right wisely, fairly, or coherently.

Around the same time that Trump was using Twitter to casually defame an MSNBC host by insinuating that he was involved in a fictional murder, the company decided to take issue with two Trump tweets warning that expanded use of mail-in ballots would lead to “substantially fraudulent” voting and a “rigged election.” Those comments were hyperbolic and included at least one blatant inaccuracy—Trump’s claim that all California residents would receive mail-in ballots.

But that is par for the course with Trump. If Twitter tries to keep up with all of this president’s exaggerations and prevarications, especially when they are matters of interpretation, it will satisfy no one.

Twitter’s next exercise in Trump moderation involved a tweet in which he called for stronger action against violent protesters, warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter deemed that comment a “glorification of violence,” ordinarily prohibited by the platform’s rules, but left it up, accompanied by a “public service notice,” because an elected official said it.

As with most of its rules, Twitter enforces that one haphazardly at best, as a search for the phrase “snitches get stitches” on the platform reveals. Such inconsistency, which conservatives plausibly suspect is influenced by political bias, is a big part of their beef against Twitter.

Those complaints may have merit. But that does not mean Twitter’s inevitable failure to evenhandedly enforce its own rules qualifies as a constitutional issue.

© Copyright 2020 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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Some Lessons from a Washington Post Graphic on Police Shootings

It’s no secret to readers of the Volokh Conspiracy, nor to readers of our parent site Reason.com, that the American criminal justice is in dire need of reform. Police are generally unaccountable for misbehavior (which, among other things allows a small number of sociopaths to consistently engage in excessive force), militarization of local police forces creates opportunities for excessive use of force, no-knock raids create all sorts of problems leading to all sorts of abuses, the drug war has been a disaster for civil liberties, coercive tactics by prosecutors lead the innocent to plead guilty to “lesser charges” to avoid total ruin, and so on. Even in the absence of racism, these problems would fall more heavily on the poor and those living on the margins of society, a population that is disproportionately African American. The presence of racism makes matters worse for them.

All that said, we rely on the media to inform us about these issues, but instead we get a preconceived narrative, as illustrated by the graphic from the Washington Post, below. I take it that readers are supposed to look at this graphic, be outraged at the disparities, and then draw whatever conclusions may follow.

But, assuming these statistics are correct, we can in fact parse them in ways that make us think more deeply about what they mean and why they are presented this way.

First, note that over a five year period, 1,262 Blacks, 887 Hispanics, and 2412 Whites were shot to death by police. In aggregate, that’s a lot of people, and we should hope (and perhaps demand) that cops can be trained to use non-lethal force more often in many situations in which they feel threatened. Police in other countries seem to manage it. On the other hand, I’ve heard a great deal of rhetoric over the past week to the effect that police officers are basically just looking for black men to hunt down, and that there is a decent chance that any encounter between the police and a black man will result in the black man’s death. That is simply not borne out by the data (even if we note that some smaller number of deaths from police violence are not from shootings). Looking just at deadly shootings, black men get arrested two million times or so each year.  Many millions more times, police have other adversarial encounters with black men, such as traffic stops, or confrontations that don’t lead to arrest. A tiny percentage of those encounters lead to deadly shootings, and in some fraction of those, the police use of force was justified by the threat faced by the officer. So the odds of an unjustified deadly shooting of a black man in a confrontation with police in any given instance is tiny.

Don’t get me wrong. EVERY SINGLE unjustified police shooting is a horrible crime, which not only may steal the victim’s life but tears at the fabric of society. But the notion that police are generally trigger happy and shooting to death anyone in sight, especially if he is black? The data don’t support even a moderate version of that rhetoric.

I’m also not arguing that there is not a serious problem with routine excessive use of force by some police officers and perhaps some entire departments. But the data suggest that “police brutality” rarely takes the form of shooting to kill, and is much more likely to be “routine,” non-deadly force.

Second, the number of whites shot and killed by police is surprisingly high, at least if one has assimilated the rhetoric out there. African Americans are getting shot disproportionately often compared to whites on a per capita basis, but if you look at arrest data, you see that African Americans are arrested for violent crime much more often per capita than whites. This creates more opportunities for confrontations between violent criminals and the police, and undoubtedly explains at least some of the disparity.

Even if there were no disparity once arrest rates were taken into account, that would not necessarily be evidence that racism does not cause fatal shootings. Just for example, African American deaths may be concentrated in big cities, where the police have better equipment and are better trained than in small rural sheriff’s departments. Better training and equipment should lead to fewer shootings. African Americans may also be less confrontational with police as they are more likely to expect to be subject to violence if they don’t cooperate, which should also lead to fewer shootings.

Regardless, what the data show is that to the extent the police are using excessive force in shootings, they are doing so against whites (and Hispanics) as well, so even if it’s more of a problem for African Americans, it’s not solely a problem for African Americans. Eliminating racism, in short, would still leave the U.S. with far more deaths from police shootings than seems reasonable.

Third (and this is what struck me the most), the Post could hardly be more transparent about the narrative it’s trying to push. The graphic shows that blacks are shot to death by police more than Hispanics who are shot more than Whites who are shot much more often than… “other”. Other is about 49 million people, which would include about 21 million Asian Americans, who likely have an even lower rate of being shot to death by police than the full “other” category. But if you are trying to frame the narrative as an uncomplicated “cops shoot people of color more than whites” you can’t actually break out “Asians” because that undermines the narrative and means you have to dig a bit beyond the simple formula.

This reminds me of Justice Sotomayer’s dissent in the BAMN case, in which she provided statistics purporting to show that affirmative action was needed to ensure educational attainment for “racial minorities,” but she excluded Asian Americans (who can at least in some sense be considered a “racial minority”) but included Hispanics, who can be of any race (and about half of whom consider themselves to be white). It’s understandable if a story wants to highlight black-white differences, for obvious historical reasons. But whenever you see someone include Hispanics as a “minority” category, but exclude Asians, you know there is a political or ideological agenda behind it.

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Nativist Congressman Steve King Loses Republican Primary

Voters appear to have ended the 20-year congressional career of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who is best known for his rabidly anti-immigrant and nativist views.

King was soundly defeated in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 4th congressional district, which he has represented since 2003. With 95 percent of precincts reporting at 11 p.m. local time, King was trailing state Sen. Randy Feenstra by more than 9 percentage points in a five-way race.

It is fitting that King’s political career will effectively come to an end in a week marked by nationwide protests against racial discrimination by law enforcement. King has a long history of making what Vanity Fair once called “barely veiled” statements in support of white nationalism. He has suggested that black Americans would be more easily able to afford abortions if they stopped buying iPhones, and for years he displayed a Confederate flag in his congressional office—which doesn’t even make historical sense, since Iowa did not join the confederacy.

His history of comments about immigrants is at least as appalling. While discussing what he saw as the need for an electrified border fence 2006, King compared illegal immigrants to livestock. King has always maintained that he only opposes illegal immigration, but any honest accounting of his time in public office—including remarks like “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” and “immigrants are importing a different culture, a different civilization, and that culture and civilization, the imported one, rejects the host’s culture“—would strongly suggest otherwise.

The last straw for many Republicans may have come in 2019, when King wondered aloud during a 2019 interview with The New York Times: “white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” He claimed the Times had misquoted him, but no one really bought it. His congressional colleagues officially rebuked him on the House floor, and Republican leaders stripped King of his committee assignments. He had trouble raising money in this election cycle, and deep-pocketed groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed Feenstra’s bid to unseat him.

Good riddance. King’s anti-immigrant politics and ethno-nationalist ideas may have presaged the Republican Party’s Trump Era, but they should have no place in American politics.

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‘I’m Paying for My Own Suicide’: Scenes From a Quieter Night of Protests in D.C.

The fifth time’s the charm for anti-police demonstrations in Washington, D.C. Tuesday’s protests drew large crowds and a heavy, militarized police presence, but less of the violent crackdowns or vandalism that characterized the last several nights.

The 7 p.m. curfew issued by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser remained in effect for today, with exceptions granted only for essential workers, media, and people voting in the District’s primary elections. That didn’t stop a crowd of several thousand from gathering along H Street just north of the White House across from a newly fenced-off Lafayette Square well into the evening.

The same area was the site of some of the worst violence yesterday when police rushed a peaceful crowd—firing smoke grenades and possibly pepper balls or tear gas—so that President Donald Trump could make a short speech in front of the adjacent St. John’s Episcopal Church. On Sunday night the church was briefly set on fire.

Today was much more relaxed. Demonstrators perched themselves on the St. Johns building, using a megaphone to shout directions at the crowd. Protesters kept up a steady stream of now typical chants. (“Black lives matter.” “No justice, no peace.” “I can’t breathe.”) Others circled through the crowd offering free bottles of water, granola bars, and hand sanitizer. There is a pandemic happening, after all.

Periodically, the crowd would take a knee, urging the riot police and National Guardmen positioned on the other side of a large chainlink fence between them and the White House to do the same. (They did not reciprocate.)

The tensest moments (and it’s a stretch to even call them tense) came from protesters shaking the fence, an action that drew sharp rebukes from others in the crowd.
Some outspoken demonstrators shouted taunts of “oink, oink” or “get another job” at the police. Most didn’t get that personal.

A few people sparked up joints (something that’s legal in the District, though not in public and not after curfew). One man wearing a dinosaur suit complained that he had to pee. A middle-aged woman picked up litter dropped by more inconsiderate protesters.

Between the chants, there were snippets of real talk. One black woman observed you couldn’t tell which were the good or bad officers just by looking at them. Another complained about her tax dollars going to fund the military and police, saying “I’m paying for my own suicide.”

Approximately an hour past curfew a large number of demonstrators marched from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, nearly two miles away. Their path was flanked by a heavy presence of military vehicles and federal law enforcement officers, who had already made their presence felt throughout the downtown.

Crowds of agents wearing FBI- and DEA-emblazoned vests kept pace with protesters, as did a contingent of bicycle-riding officers from the city-controlled Metropolitan Police Department. All kept their distance.

At one point, a gaggle of FBI-jacketed officers walked beneath a giant stone rendition of the First Amendment on the side of the now-shuttered Newseum.

The march culminated at the Peace Monument outside Congress, where demonstrators held a moment of silence for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and other black victims of police violence.

Another demonstration outside the Lincoln Memorial also went off without any incident, though the law enforcement presence there was notably massive.

The entire affair felt almost normal. It was certainly a far cry from the chaotic, dystopian-feeling clashes of the previous days. The mix of a large but lower-energy crowd and a more hands-off approach from law enforcement helped keep the peace.

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Gordon Chang On China: What We Must Do, & What We Must Not Do

Gordon Chang On China: What We Must Do, & What We Must Not Do

Tyler Durden

Wed, 06/03/2020 – 00:05

Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute,

China has attacked America with coronavirus. At this moment, more than 100,000 Americans have been killed. We brace ourselves for the deaths to come.

Today, I’ll do two things. First, I’ll talk about the nature of that attack. The second thing, what we must do to protect ourselves.

First of all, China is not, as many people will tell you, just a competitor. It is an enemy. China is trying to overthrow the international system, and in that process, it is trying to make you subject to modern-day Chinese emperors.

I know this sounds as if it cannot be true, but we must listen to what Chinese leaders say. When we do that, we realize that to defend the American republic and defend our way of life, we are going to have to decouple from China.

On May 6, President Donald J. Trump said that China’s attack was worse than Pearl Harbor, worse than the World Trade Center. “There’s never been an attack like this,” he said, and he is right.

Most critically, Chinese leaders publicly admitted that the novel coronavirus, the pathogen causing COVID-19, could be transmitted from one human to another on January 20.

Yet doctors in Wuhan, the epicenter, were noticing the contagiousness of this virus no later than the second week in December. Beijing knew a few days after that. If Chinese leaders had said nothing during that five‑week period, that would have been grossly irresponsible.

What they tried to do, however, was deceive the world into believing that this was not transmissible human-to-human. As a result of that campaign, the World Health Organization (WHO) propagated China’s false narrative, especially with that infamous January 14 tweet:

“Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China.”

At the same time, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2012, pressured countries not to impose travel restrictions or quarantines on arrivals from China. Again, WHO helped China, this time with its January 10 statement opposing these restrictions.

What happened was arrivals from China — when Chinese officials knew this virus was human-to human-transmissible — turned what should have been an epidemic contained to China into a global pandemic.

I don’t know what Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler, was thinking, but if after having seen what the coronavirus did to cripple China, he decided to cripple other societies to get even, he would have done exactly what in fact he did do.

That means there is only one inescapable conclusion. This conclusion is that China maliciously spread this virus around the world, sickening people, killing others.

This is the first time in history that one nation has attacked all the others.

That is not all. After admitting the human-to-human contagiousness of this disease, Beijing then downplayed it.

On January 21, the day after formally admitting the disease’s human-to-human transmissibility, Beijing got its propaganda machine in full gear to tell the world that this was less dangerous than SARS.

SARS is the 2002‑2003 epidemic that according to the World Health Organization infected 8,096 people across the world, killing 744. By then, on January 21, Chinese officials knew it was much worse than SARS.

According to Der Spiegel, Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, believes that on January 21 ‑‑ this is the day after China formally admitted human‑to‑human transmissibility of the disease ‑‑ Xi Jinping spoke to Dr. Tedros, the director-general of WHO, and tried to get the organization to hold back information on human‑to‑human transmissibility, as well as to delay declaring a pandemic.

Now, WHO denies that this phone conversation between Xi and Tedros took place, but it fits known facts. It also fits what the US intelligence community has been saying, according to various reports.

China’s actions had consequences. Beijing lulled public health officials around the world, including those in the United States, into not taking actions that they otherwise would have adopted.

Democrats and Chinese communists have criticized President Trump for acting too slowly after he imposed the travel restrictions on China on January 31. If that is true, it is only because people on his coronavirus task force were actually listening to what Beijing was saying and making judgments on what they had heard.

For instance, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, in her March 31 press briefing said she had seen the data from China and decided that this was no more dangerous than SARS, but realized, after the infections ripped through both Italy and Spain, that she had been deceived by the Chinese. She is not the only one. Dr. Anthony Fauci has also talked in public about how the Chinese misled him.

We must impose costs on China. We must impose costs because, first of all, what China did was a crime against all of humanity. We must also impose costs because we need to deter China. This is not going to be the last pathogen generated on Chinese soil. We got to make sure the Chinese leaders do not believe that they can maliciously spread another disease.

This means there is going to be friction between China and the United States as we Americans take steps to protect ourselves in the future. Those steps are going to cause arrogant and belligerent Chinese to move against us.

We should take a look about how the arrogant and belligerent Chinese indeed view the international system, how they view the world order. You will hear many analysts say that the friction between the United States and China is just another one of these boys-will-be-boys contests in history.

The notion is that the United States is jealously protecting its position in the international system fits in with Beijing’s narrative that their rise is inevitable and that we are in terminal decline.

The truth is that the United States is defending more than just its position in the international system. We are defending the international system itself, the system of treaties, conventions, rules, and norms.

Unfortunately, Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler, does not believe in that system. He is trying to impose China’s imperial‑era notions of the world. In other words, he believes that everyone around the world must acknowledge Chinese rule.

In short, Chinese rulers believed that they had the mandate of heaven over tianxia, meaning “all under heaven.” Xi Jinping has used tianxia‑like language for more than a decade. Recently, his pronouncements have become unmistakable.

For instance, in his 2017 New Year’s message he said, and I quote, “The Chinese have always held that the world is united and all under heaven” — all under heaven — “are one family.”

If this were not enough, his foreign minister, Wang Yi, in September of 2017 wrote an article in Study Times, the Central Party School’s influential newspaper. Wang Yi wrote that “Xi Jinping thought” ‑‑ “thought” in Communist Party lingo is an important body of ideological work — “made innovations on and transcended the traditional Western theories of international relations for the past 300 years.”

If you take 2017 and subtract 300 years, you almost get to 1648. Wang, with his time reference of 300 years, was almost certainly pointing to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which established the current international system. That system recognizes the sovereignty of different states.

Also, when Wang Yi used the word “transcended,” he was saying that Xi Jinping does not believe that there should be sovereign states, or at least no more sovereign states than China itself. The trend of Xi Jinping’s recent comments is that he doesn’t want to live within the international system. He does not even want to adjust it. He wants to overthrow it altogether.

This means China once again is a revolutionary state. Now, Xi Jinping, of course, has not had the power to compel others to accept this audacious vision of worldwide Chinese rule.

Nonetheless, in the last few months, he has seen an historic opportunity because the United States has been stricken by the disease that China itself has pushed out beyond its borders.

What must we do? First, let us talk about what we must not do.

We must not save Chinese communism again. In the past, American presidents, when China had been stressed, have ridden to the rescue of the Chinese state. In 1972, for instance, Richard Nixon went to a Beijing that had been weakened by more than a half decade of the Cultural Revolution, signaling America’s support for China’s communism. That is how people in China took that visit.

The second time, 1989, George H. W. Bush sent Brent Scowcroft, his secret emissary, to Deng Xiaoping in the wake of the Tiananmen massacre. Again, America was telling the Chinese, “Don’t worry about American sanctions, don’t worry about what we say in public, we have your back.”

The third time, 1999, President William Jefferson Clinton signed a trade deal with China – at a time when the Chinese economy, in reality, was contracting. Certainly, China was suffering geopolitical setbacks. That deal was the basis of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.

Despite all these saves of Chinese communism, China’s communist leaders have remained hostile. We have seen this hostility, especially since the first week of February of this year when the Global Times, which is a Communist Party newspaper, and the Chinese foreign ministry have engaged in an inflammatory disinformation campaign against the United States in an attempt to tar the US with all sorts of disease‑related sins.

This campaign culminated, reached a high point — although this campaign is still continuing today — on March 12th when the foreign ministry went on a Twitter storm. As a part of that Twitter storm, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that coronavirus patient zero was in the United States.

In other words, the disease started here. He also suggested that the US Army carried the disease to Wuhan. We were seeing daily stories about how the United States had been spreading the disease around the world.

Now, Americans, of course, were taken by surprise by this Twitter storm, but we really should not be — because on May 13 of last year Beijing declared a “people’s war” on the United States. This means the contest with China is existential. There is going to be one survivor. It is going to be either the Peoples’ Republic of China or the United States of America, not both.

We have just heard about what we should not be doing. We should not be rescuing Chinese communism.

What should we do? In my call for action, there are eight items.

First, we need to cut off trade with China. Now, I know a lot of people think we should not do this, or this would be unfortunate.

Yes, this is unfortunate, but the point is that China’s communism cannot be reformed, so the only way we can protect American society and Americans is to reduce our exposure to China and our great exposure, of course, is trade. In any event, we should not be enriching a hostile state with the proceeds of commerce with the United States.

This means, of course, that we need to get our factories off Chinese soil, but especially our pharmaceutical factories. China has been threatening to throw the United States into what it calls “a mighty sea of coronavirus,” and it has not been kidding.

For instance, we know the Chinese have turned around at least one ship carrying personal protective equipment — masks, gowns, gloves — that were on their way to New York hospitals. Moreover, Peter Navarro has said China has even nationalized one American factory in China producing those N‑95 masks.

China’s leadership always talks about how it is not possible for the US and China to “decouple.” Now, it is possible. Our job is to make it inevitable.

Second thing that we need to do: The administration is well on the way to making sure federal pension money is not invested in China’s markets. We also need to make sure that state pension money, and money from individuals, is not put into China’s markets. We should not be enriching China with our investments into its equity markets.

Third thing, we need to make China pay. Now, many people have sued the Chinese central government. There are class‑action suits in the federal district courts in Florida, Texas, and Nevada. Of course, the Chinese Central Government has sovereign immunity, but there are a number of bills in Congress, including one sponsored by Senator Blackburn and Representative Lance Gooden.

There is also another bill sponsored by Tom Cotton and Dan Crenshaw, and these would strip China of sovereign immunity. I believe Josh Hawley, the Senator from Missouri, also has a bill.

The State of Missouri, by the way, has sued the Communist Party of China, which is far more important and far richer than the Chinese central government. Guess what? China’s Communist Party does not have sovereign immunity.

People have also been talking about seizing China’s holdings of US Treasury obligations. According to official records, it holds more than a trillion dollars. In reality, it is probably a bit higher than that because China holds US Treasuries through nominees.

Of course, China would engage in a vociferous propaganda campaign if we did that. Beijing would say we are repudiating our debt. They would also say we are not responsible members and stewards of the global financial system. They would be wrong, they would be incorrect, but the US might suffer reputational damage.

That is why I think we should seize Treasuries, but we should be doing this in connection with the holders and issuers of other major currencies. For instance, the Canadian dollar, the British pound, the European Union’s euro, the Swiss franc, the Japanese yen, maybe the Singapore dollar

When we act with others, this becomes not a China-versus-US issue but an issue of China versus the world. No one country is going to suffer reputational damage.

Of course, Beijing could nationalize American factories in China, but I’m not so sure they’re going to do that because China would be hurt far more than we would by that.

Remember that China’s economy is still in a contraction phase and it is still export‑dominated, which means it needs those factories on its soil.

Fourth, with the possibility of the coronavirus escaping from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, we are now thinking about whether China has a biological weapons program in contravention of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.

Right now, we have seen all sorts of circumstantial evidence suggesting lab leak, and we have seen all sorts of circumstantial evidence that the Chinese military has been involved in the cleanup.

The Biological Weapons Convention does not have an inspections regime.

The item on my action list is that the United States should insist on inspections of China’s labs, and if we cannot get inspections we should withdraw from the Convention. I am not saying that the novel coronavirus was a biological weapon. We really do not know.

The one thing we do know is that in China’s labs, they have been engineering coronaviruses in the past. They have issued scientific papers on this, and what they are doing is extremely risky.

Fifth, we should make sure that China does not mess in our elections. China was extremely active in the 2018 midterms. They were concerned about President Trump’s tariffs, and they actually did have an effect in electing Democrats to the House of Representatives.

We know they are going to do that, or something like that, this time. The New York Times a few weeks ago said they are trying to sow chaos in the American public square by disseminating false rumors.

Sixth, we need to stop China from using its nationals to systematically gather information on our soil. Unfortunately, we have had a series of American presidents who have, for various reasons, either done nothing about China’s intelligence operations here, or the actions they took were deliberately ineffective.

We know that China’s diplomats operate on our soil, sometimes spying, other times in a manner inconsistent with the diplomatic status they have. Also, China’s Ministry of State Security agents operate here, freely.

We need to “rip and replace” all the equipment in our telecom backbone that has been supplied by Huawei Technologies, China’s telecom equipment manufacturer. China has been using that company’s equipment to spy on others. We should have no Huawei equipment in our backbone.

Also, we should be turfing out even more Chinese journalists. Those “journalists,” we know, work for China’s intelligence services. We have allowed them to stay on our soil for far too long. Secretary of State Pompeo has expelled many of them, and we need to complete the job.

We have to remember that China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law requires every Chinese citizen and every Chinese entity to spy if demanded, which means that Chinese nationals on our soil can be under a compulsion to engage in intelligence collection.

Seventh, let’s remove China from our cable networks and our newsstands. We should not be allowing China to exploit the openness of our system to try to end it.

Eighth, and the last, we have to deter China, which right now is engaging in what people in Beijing call “wolf warrior” diplomacy. For instance, we see Xi Jinping, with these threats to invade Taiwan.

Since the middle of February, there have been these boat-bumping and other provocative engagements in the South China and East China Seas against almost all of China’s sea neighbors. A Chinese diplomat laid the groundwork for taking over Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, and also China has moved to end the autonomy in Hong Kong.

China is lashing out, challenging everybody at the same time. This is a Maoist tactic, and it suggests problems inside the Chinese political system. In any event, we know that this is an incredibly dangerous moment for everyone.

One final note. Pushed by China, the Trump Administration is moving to an historic rupture with the People’s Republic of China. Because of this, we are seeing changes in the five‑decade‑old engagement policy.

Those changes are absolutely essential for us because, without them, we cannot be self‑reliant.

*  *  *

Q: As an attorney, do you feel there is any way to hold China accountable, liable for financial compensation to devastated nations ravaged by their actions?

If so, as a practical matter, exactly how? Are there US companies that were collaborating with Wuhan labs via research responsible for this corona strain?

Chang: Great. I should say I haven’t practiced law for two decades, and I’ve given up my bar memberships. I’m more than happy to answer that question, however. First of all, as I mentioned, China does have sovereign immunity.

Now, a lot of people will tell you, and this is not an unreasonable argument, that sovereign immunity benefits the US more than any other nation. I do believe the fight with China is existential. To me, it’s important that we make China pay.

As I said, we can avoid this sovereign immunity issue ‑‑ and which would have some blowback for the US ‑‑ if the plaintiffs sue the Communist Party. Because the Communist Party is not sovereign.

In China, there’s a clear distinction between the party and the state. The state has sovereign immunity like other countries and other states have, but the party does not. We can go after the party.

By the way, the party actually has more control over China’s enterprises, which means it should be considered to be the owner of those enterprises. So, it has assets to seize.

We talk about China’s military. Actually, it is not a state army. It is an army of the Communist Party, which means that if we can find a Chinese plane, or a ship, or whatever, that would be subject to a successful suit in US Court because there’s no sovereign immunity and it’s a party army.

Having said all that, I think where we are going to seize assets will be the Treasuries. We should be working, as mentioned, with our allies and friends so that all countries in the world seize China’s assets. That, I think, will work.

Q. Are there US companies that were collaborating with Wuhan labs via research responsible for this corona strain?

Chang: I don’t think so. The Wuhan Institute of Virology was built with French companies, not American, as far as I know. Of course, the issue here is not corporate support but is US government support.

The US has chipped in, most famously, $3.7 million to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for research on bats. Many people think that the novel coronavirus is derived from a bat. I think part of the reason for the contribution is that the United States thought that experimenting on bat viruses was really too risky to be done in the US, so it decided to let the Chinese do it.

That is crazy. If it is too dangerous for us to do it, it’s too dangerous for the Chinese to do it, especially because we know that in China’s labs ‑‑ although the Wuhan Institute of Virology has a P4 biosafety lab, that is the highest level of safety standards ‑‑ we know that the Chinese do not adhere to those standards.

In 2018, State Department teams that visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology came away appalled — actually I should say alarmed — because they saw that Chinese technicians were not adhering to safety standards and protocols.

Also, we had those China Daily pictures. China Daily is an official state media publication. They tried to convince the world how safe the Wuhan Institute was so they posted these pictures, and those pictures actually documented broken or bent seals on refrigerators, a real safety problem.

We know that that lab was a walking disaster and something was going to happen. Unfortunately, it looks as if it did. Probably the coronavirus was an accidental lab release.

Q: How would you advise key US allies?

Chang: I advise every country to cut their trade relations with China because of the danger China poses.

The general view I have is that the world just needs to cut relations with China. If it were possible to reform Chinese communism, maybe that would be a worthwhile experiment, but we Americans have tried that for almost a half‑century and it has not worked.

As a matter of fact, our engagement of China has produced the opposite of what we wanted. We now have a richer and stronger China, more belligerent, more provocative, more aggressive, and much more dangerous. We have got to reverse what was clearly then, and is certainly clearly now, a misguided policy.

Q: What can we do now to try and protect us from more of these viral attacks?

Chang: The less trade and travel we have with China, then the better we are going to be. If there is no Chinese traveler, there would be no global pandemic. There would be no infections outside China. What we are going to have to do is to severely restrict travel from China.

We have to do this at least until we get our hands around this issue. Clearly, we have not been able to manage this. We have this notion, and everybody accepts it, at least implicitly, about globalization, comparative advantage, all of these things that have underpinned our modern world.

Unfortunately, China does not believe in comparative advantage, it does not believe in being a responsible member of the international community. Unfortunately, the only thing we can do is what many people think is unthinkable, and that is to cut our ties with China.

We cut our ties until we feel comfortable dealing with China, which in my mind means that the Communist Party no longer rules, that the Chinese people govern themselves, and then we can get along with them. I believe the Chinese people eventually will get this right.

At least at the moment, until they get it right, we have an obligation to our own citizens to cut those links. Because without those links, we are not going to have the next disease. Remember, China produces, especially in southern China, a lot of disease. Most of the world’s diseases do come from southern China.

This is not some academic question. Unfortunately, the remedy is severe, but I do not know how else we do this because you just cannot cooperate with China. You have got to cut your links.

Q: What might be possible in the way of the US government exposing details on high‑ranking members of the CCP’s overseas bank accounts, family dealings, and for instance, how Xi, on a government salary, paid for his daughter’s attendance at Harvard.

The press has covered some of these things, but that is different from official confirmation and surely greater access to such things as bank records.

Chang: I think we should just publicize it, and seize the assets of Chinese leaders in the United States. We have the Global Magnitsky Act.

These guys, even before the coronavirus episode, were engaging in a crime against humanity with the detention of somewhere between 1.3 and 3 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other peoples of Turkic backgrounds in what China calls Xinjiang, the northwestern part of China.

We know that people were dying in those camps because China has been building crematoria. We know that this is an attempt to eliminate a religion, to eliminate ethnic identity. This is very close to genocide. If it is not genocide, it is as bad as what the Third Reich did before the mass extermination of what, 1941?

That alone should give us justification for applying the Global Magnitsky Act and just seizing all their assets in this country. As I mentioned, I believe this was a deliberate spread of the coronavirus. More than 100,000 Americans have died. We have the right to do everything we can within our power to protect ourselves and to punish wrongdoers.

We may not be able to bring Xi Jinping to The Hague. We may not be able to put him in that prison we have in Florence, Colorado, otherwise known as the Supermax. We may not be able to put him in Guantanamo, but we sure can seize his assets.

Q: Please discuss what we need to do to regain the technology commanding heights, national industrial plan, whole of government, whole of economy, society, Sputnik‑like program.

Chang: It is a whole-of-society approach. You go back maybe 10 years, China was not considered to be a tech competitor. Right now, it is ahead in crucial technologies such as, for instance, 5G, the fifth generation of wireless communications, and in quantum communications it has at least a half‑decade lead on us.

This is really stunning because this whole theoretical notion of quantum communications was developed by an American, Albert Einstein. For us, this is just Americans not paying attention.

It is also, of course, China’s stealing. China steals somewhere between $150 to $600 billion of US intellectual property each year, and now, the FBI is warning that it is trying to steal vaccines and medical‑related information.

What China has been able to do, and it is more than just that, it has had determined programs to develop technology. For instance, China has its 13th Five‑Year Plan, which is just about finished. It has the Made in China 2025 Initiative, where medicines and medical equipment comprise one of the 10 sectors that China wants to dominate by the year 2025.

These are, for China, a whole-of-society approach toward developing technology. We really need to do the same thing, and we can do it. President John F. Kennedy went to Rice University and said, “We are going to go to the moon.” That was a time when the Soviets were well ahead of us.

Through federal programs, through cooperation with business, just through everything, we were able to put the first man on the moon. By the way, no other country has left earth orbit, but the Chinese probably are ahead of us in the race to get back to the moon.

For us, I think what we are going to have to adopt the whole-of-society approach. The one thing that we should focus on is our universities. We have Chinese students and others taking in ways which are sometimes violative of federal law, sometimes just inconsistent with their status on campus.

They have been stealing, downloading entire databases, doing all the rest of this. We need to stop that. I know Chinese students, Chinese professors play a large role in our campuses, but they have also been taking US technology. We need to end that.

For me, it means a renewed approach. One of the ways we can stop this is, we have allowed Chinese diplomats and Ministry of State Security agents to surveil Chinese students on campus. That means Chinese students feel really under a compulsion to do what Beijing wants.

We are Americans. This is our country. We can get those diplomats out of those campuses, get the Chinese agents off our soil. That is up to us. To me, this is important of course. I’m here because my dad came here as a student in 1945, just before the end of the war.

I think we have got a long way to go, to solving what I think is actually the most complex issue we face: what do you do with Chinese students on American campuses? There are no easy solutions, but we need to address this in a much more rigorous way than we have been. We must do all of those things, that means we have a whole-of-society approach.

Q: Pharmaceuticals, how can we best replace the Chinese market? And rare earth strategic elements. Does the US have adequate resources to produce our own? How can we best disconnect from the dependence on the Chinese market?

Chang: On rare earths, we have rare earths in our country and our allies’ — most notably, Canada and Australia — have a lot of rare earths. What we do not have is the refining capacity. Stuff mined in countries other than China is actually shipped to China to be refined.

That has occurred because we do not want to suffer the environmental damage caused by refining rare earths, which in the past has really been awful. New technologies, and those that are coming on-stream now, mitigate much of the environmental impact. I think we need to start refining rare earths in North America.

If not here, then in Canada, which has huge deposits of many of the rare earths. It is a political decision for us to make, that we decide not to be dependent on China.

With regard to pharmaceuticals, Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, has been talking for weeks about an executive order that would require the federal government to not buy pharmaceuticals from China. That EO has yet to be signed.

I think there is intense fighting at the top of the administration: trade groups and pharmaceutical companies have been fighting that executive order. This is something the President needs to do. It is in his power.

He can wake up one morning and say to the pharmaceutical companies, “I don’t care what you think. This is a national security issue.” You remember that on July 21, 2017, President Trump signed that executive order on supply chain robustness.

We know on March 24 of this year he talked about what is now called his American independence agenda, which is Americans making things for Americans.

Remember, he has the power under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 to do a lot of stuff, including getting pharmaceutical companies out of China. It’s up to him. We should be, I hope, putting pressure on the White House to do what should be done because he is getting a lot of pressure on the other side. President Trump can do this.

Now, one other note. I do not do domestic politics, but I have noticed that there is an election this year. That is probably going to slow down the reaction of the president to many of the initiatives I think should be taken, but nonetheless, this is a really critical one. We cannot allow China to make our pharmaceuticals.

We should not be relying on any single country to the extent that we are relying on China, but certainly not a hostile regime that threatens to cut off products. Again, this is a question of American political will.

Q: How do we get other countries to join us in this effort? They are already getting blackmailed by China. If they criticize China, it punishes them over trade. Australia dared to join 100 countries asking for an investigation into coronavirus origin.

China responded by imposing 80% tariffs on Australian agricultural imports. How can we help other countries to stand up to China?

Chang: At the World Health Assembly, which just concluded, the resolution for an independent investigation of the origins of the coronavirus actually was sponsored by 144 countries. It passed without objection.

This is an investigation which China does not want, although China eventually saw the handwriting on the wall and decided not to oppose it. I think we get to this is a couple of ways. One of them is, the intelligence community, our intelligence community, has a lot of information which is going to throw a light on what China actually did, in terms of spreading the coronavirus.

I know that the intelligence community does not like disclosing a lot of this stuff because it compromises sources and methods. Every once in a while, you get an intelligence issue which is so critical to the future of our country.

I think that this is one of those where disclosure of information really is important. Once countries know what China did in terms of deliberately spreading this coronavirus, I think it is over for China.

With regard to Australia, because Australia was the second country to propose this investigation after we did, China has decided to punish Australia more than any other country, especially with those tariffs on barley.

This is one of those cases where we Americans should start buying Australian barley. We have got to show Beijing that we can out-muscle them. Remember, China looks fearsome because it has had economic growth.

China right now is in a contraction phase, and it has also got one other huge problem, and that is a lot of its Belt and Road loans to other countries are coming due this year. These countries cannot pay China back, which means China’s debt‑trap diplomacy is trapping not just the debtors, but it’s trapping China itself.

What we should be doing is making sure these countries do not pay back, because this is one way to starve the beast. There are many different ways to do it, cutting off trade, cutting off investments.

Those are things we can do, and we can be working with our allies, our friends, and countries that normally are not our friends. They now have an interest in opposing China, so we should be working with them.

Q: To what extent do you consider Xi’s position as head of the CCP to be precarious? Might concerns about his own vulnerability have anything to do with his renewed aggressiveness?

Chang: That’s the question I wish I knew the answer to. There are a number of things that can be said. Of course, China’s political system is not transparent. Especially at moments like this, it can be very opaque. I think this is one of those do-or-die moments for Xi Jinping. I mean that literally.

You have got to remember, Xi has changed the nature of the Chinese political system. Under Hu Jintao, his predecessor, it was collective, which means a Chinese leader really did not get blamed for things that went wrong.

Also, he did not get that much credit: all decisions were essentially made by consensus, especially at the Politburo Standing Committee, but even in the wider Politburo. The Chinese leader did not worry too much about things going bad.

Xi Jinping, of course, has taken that consensus system that he inherited at the end of 2012, and he has made it more or less into a one‑person system where he is the one person. Which means, of course, he has the greater accountability that goes along with that great power.

Xi Jinping, even before the coronavirus, was having a pretty bad year, in 2019, because he had a stumbling economy. He had problems in Hong Kong. He had some pretty unhappy people in China.

What Xi has done is run roughshod over everybody. As long as he can do that, he is safe. You have got to remember, though: people have not forgotten what Xi Jinping has done to them in terms of taking away their power, putting their family members in jail, all the rest of this.

They are sort of waiting on the sidelines for an opportunity to strike back. When Xi Jinping stumbles, they will strike back. This is a particularly important time for Xi because what he is trying to do is intimidate the world with this “wolf warrior” diplomacy.

If he succeeds, he is golden. If he does not succeed, if the world starts to contain China, starts to reduce relations with Beijing, all the rest of it, he is gone. By gone, I mean, he not only loses his position, he also loses perhaps his freedom, his assets, and maybe even his life.

He has taken what was a consensus-driven system and made it like the Maoist political system of the first years of the People’s Republic. When people lost political struggles, they not only lost power, they sometimes were executed.

Xi Jinping knows what is at stake right now. There are rumors ‑‑ I don’t know how much weight to give them ‑‑ that he is not going to get a third term as general secretary at the next Communist Party Congress in 2022. I tend to believe them, but I think that has not yet been determined.

What is interesting is that people in Beijing are talking about that. Which means that it probably is an option for the party to ditch Xi Jinping at the next opportunity. We shall see.

Q: Can we analyze some of the pharmaceuticals or even vitamins that come in that possibly show pathogens because of their poor oversight and loose regulations?

Chang: The answer is yes. We have had in the past medicines coming from China that have been adulterated. For instance, in the middle of this decade, maybe even earlier, Heparin, the blood thinner, was adulterated.

I do not think China would intentionally try to adulterate their vaccines and stuff. Nonetheless, they have had these fake vaccines scandals periodically in China. One not too long ago. We have got to be very concerned.

China can actually get to a vaccine before anybody else does if for no other reason that they are willing to cut corners. It is important for us to make sure that whatever China comes up with is not only effective but also safe.

Xi Jinping at the World Health Assembly address that he gave a couple of days ago, said he was going to share the vaccine with the world. I am happy if that is the case, but we have to be concerned that what they come up with is probably going to be ineffective or dangerous.

The Chinese are not going to test. They are not going to adhere to the same safety protocols that the rest of the world will. We need to be really concerned about what comes out of China in terms of a vaccine.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3dsxB0d Tyler Durden

Already-Obese Average Americans Have Drunk & Eaten Their Way To An Extra 5lbs During Lockdown

Already-Obese Average Americans Have Drunk & Eaten Their Way To An Extra 5lbs During Lockdown

Tyler Durden

Tue, 06/02/2020 – 23:45

Months of coronavirus lockdowns have resulted in the average American body weight to increase by about five extra pounds, a new survey found. 

With gyms, yoga and spin studios, and recreational facilities closed in most parts of the country; many were forced to “Netflix and quarantine” for several months. 

The study, commissioned by Naked Nutrition, a firm that sells dietary supplements, surveyed 2,000 Americans and found at least half who said they would never get their pre-corona body back.

At least 65% said they had “let themselves go a bit” during the lockdowns. Respondents said it would take several months of intense workouts to revert to their pre-corona weight. 

About three weeks into the lockdown (in early April), Americans resorted to watching porn, drinking beer, smoking pot, and devouring chocolate to cope with quarantine stress and job loss. 

The survey found many folks developed unhealthy habits; a third said the consumption of alcohol surged during lockdowns, and more than 50% said their carbohydrate-loading increased. A little more than half (54%) said they increased vegetable intake, and 46% said they increased protein intake. 

Bloomberg’s Michael McDonough shows an exponential jump in US beer, wine, and spirits consumption during the lockdowns. 



h/t BBG 

Read: ‘We Have To Adjust To New Reality’ – Pandemic Leads To Surge In Americans Drinking At Home

Nearly 64% of respondents said lockdowns made them unhealthy. Two-thirds of respondents said they turned to an in-home exercise routine to counter weight gain. 

When it came to exercise, half bought gym equipment for the home. The top five purchases were yoga mats (45%), a stationary bike (41%), chairs (39%), and ankle weights (39%).

As gyms were forced to close, many went bankrupt, resulting in Americans purchasing Peloton bikes for their home. 

“The COVID-19 has been a stressful time for many, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can support a person’s overall health and should remain a priority. This data highlights the importance of finding simple solutions for people to be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle while in isolation,” said Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Lauren Manaker in a statement.

The study also said 50% of respondents had added dietary supplements to their daily routine, 44% have started eating protein bars, and 43% have added protein powder to their diet.

Months of lockdowns have made Americans more obese but with mass social unrest across the country, some will clearly burn the excess weight as they run from National Guard troops. 

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3gJXEC9 Tyler Durden

‘I’m Paying for My Own Suicide’: Scenes From a Quieter Night of Protests in D.C.

The fifth time’s the charm for anti-police demonstrations in Washington, D.C. Tuesday’s protests drew large crowds and a heavy, militarized police presence, but less of the violent crackdowns or vandalism that characterized the last several nights.

The 7 p.m. curfew issued by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser remained in effect for today, with exceptions granted only for essential workers, media, and people voting in the District’s primary elections. That didn’t stop a crowd of several thousand from gathering along H Street just north of the White House across from a newly fenced-off Lafayette Square well into the evening.

The same area was the site of some of the worst violence yesterday when police rushed a peaceful crowd—firing smoke grenades and possibly pepper balls or tear gas—so that President Donald Trump could make a short speech in front of the adjacent St. John’s Episcopal Church. On Sunday night the church was briefly set on fire.

Today was much more relaxed. Demonstrators perched themselves on the St. Johns building, using a megaphone to shout directions at the crowd. Protesters kept up a steady stream of now typical chants. (“Black lives matter.” “No justice, no peace.” “I can’t breathe.”) Others circled through the crowd offering free bottles of water, granola bars, and hand sanitizer. There is a pandemic happening, after all.

Periodically, the crowd would take a knee, urging the riot police and National Guardmen positioned on the other side of a large chainlink fence between them and the White House to do the same. (They did not reciprocate.)

The tensest moments (and it’s a stretch to even call them tense) came from protesters shaking the fence, an action that drew sharp rebukes from others in the crowd.
Some outspoken demonstrators shouted taunts of “oink, oink” or “get another job” at the police. Most didn’t get that personal.

A few people sparked up joints (something that’s legal in the District, though not in public and not after curfew). One man wearing a dinosaur suit complained that he had to pee. A middle-aged woman picked up litter dropped by more inconsiderate protesters.

Between the chants, there were snippets of real talk. One black woman observed you couldn’t tell which were the good or bad officers just by looking at them. Another complained about her tax dollars going to fund the military and police, saying “I’m paying for my own suicide.”

Approximately an hour past curfew a large number of demonstrators marched from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, nearly two miles away. Their path was flanked by a heavy presence of military vehicles and federal law enforcement officers, who had already made their presence felt throughout the downtown.

Crowds of agents wearing FBI- and DEA-emblazoned vests kept pace with protesters, as did a contingent of bicycle-riding officers from the city-controlled Metropolitan Police Department. All kept their distance.

At one point, a gaggle of FBI-jacketed officers walked beneath a giant stone rendition of the First Amendment on the side of the now-shuttered Newseum.

The march culminated at the Peace Monument outside Congress, where demonstrators held a moment of silence for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and other black victims of police violence.

Another demonstration outside the Lincoln Memorial also went off without any incident, though the law enforcement presence there was notably massive.

The entire affair felt almost normal. It was certainly a far cry from the chaotic, dystopian-feeling clashes of the previous days. The mix of a large but lower-energy crowd and a more hands-off approach from law enforcement helped keep the peace.

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This Is Not A Revolution. It’s A Blueprint For Locking Down The Nation

This Is Not A Revolution. It’s A Blueprint For Locking Down The Nation

Tyler Durden

Tue, 06/02/2020 – 23:25

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you—pull your beard, flick your face—to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you.”

– John Lennon

Brace yourselves.

There is something being concocted in the dens of power, far beyond the public eye, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.

Anytime you have an entire nation so mesmerized by political theater and public spectacle that they are oblivious to all else, you’d better beware.

Anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware.

And anytime you have a government so far removed from its people as to ensure that they are never seen, heard or heeded by those elected to represent them, you’d better beware.

What is unfolding before us is not a revolution.

The looting, the burning, the rioting, the violence: this is an anti-revolution.

The protesters are playing right into the government’s hands, because the powers-that-be want this. They want an excuse to lockdown the nation and throw the switch to all-out martial law. They want a reason to make the police state stronger.

It’s happening faster than we can keep up.

The Justice Department is deploying federal prison riot teams to various cities. More than half of the nation’s governors are calling on the National Guard to quell civil unrest. Growing numbers of cities, having just barely emerged from a coronavirus lockdown, are once again being locked down, this time in response to the growing upheaval.

This is how it begins.

It’s that dystopian 2030 Pentagon training video all over again, which anticipates the need for the government to institute martial law (use armed forces to solve domestic political and social problems) in order to navigate a world bedeviled by “criminal networks,” “substandard infrastructure,” “religious and ethnic tensions,” “impoverishment, slums,” “open landfills, over-burdened sewers,” a “growing mass of unemployed,” and an urban landscape in which the prosperous economic elite must be protected from the impoverishment of the have nots.

We’re way ahead of schedule.

The architects of the police state have us exactly where they want us: under their stamping boot, gasping for breath, desperate for freedom, grappling for some semblance of a future that does not resemble the totalitarian prison being erected around us.

This way lies certain tyranny.

For just one fleeting moment, “we the people” seemed united in our outrage over this latest killing of an unarmed man by a cop hyped up on his own authority and the power of his uniform.

That unity didn’t last.

Indeed, it didn’t take long—no surprise there—for us to quickly become divided again, polarized by the misguided fury and senseless violence of mobs taking to the streets, reeking of madness and mayhem.

Deliberately or not, the rioters have directed our attention away from the government’s crimes and onto their own.

This is a distraction.

Don’t allow yourself to be so distracted.

Let’s not lose sight of what started all of this in the first place: the U.S. government.

More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, the systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government constitutes a greater menace to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us.

Case in point: George Floyd died at the hands of the American police state.

The callous, cold-blooded murder of the unarmed, 46-year-old black man by police is nothing new: for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, police knelt on Floyd’s neck while the man pleaded for his life, struggled to breathe, cried out for his dead mother, and finally passed out and died.

Floyd is yet another victim of a broken system of policing that has placed “we the people” at the mercy of militarized cops who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”

Daily, Americans are being shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, challenge an order or just exist.

I’m talking about the growing numbers of unarmed people are who being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

Killed by police for standing in a “shooting stance.” Killed for holding a cell phone. Killed for holding a baseball bat. Killed for opening the front door. Killed for being a child in a car pursued by police. Killed for approaching police while holding a metal spoon. Killed for running in an aggressive manner while holding a tree branch. Killed for crawling around naked. Killed for hunching over in a defensive posture. Killed because a police officer accidentally fired his gun instead of his taser. Killed for wearing dark pants and a basketball jersey. Killed for reaching for his license and registration during a traffic stop. Killed for driving while deaf. Killed for being homeless. Killed for brandishing a shoehorn. Killed for peeing outdoors. Killed for having his car break down on the road. Killed for holding a garden hose.

Now you can make all kinds of excuses to justify these shootings, and in fact that’s exactly what you’ll hear from politicians, police unions, law enforcement officials and individuals who are more than happy to march in lockstep with the police. However, as these incidents make clear, the only truly compliant, submissive and obedient citizen in a police state is a dead one.

Sad, isn’t it, how quickly we have gone from a nation of laws—where the least among us had just as much right to be treated with dignity and respect as the next person (in principle, at least)—to a nation of law enforcers (revenue collectors with weapons) who treat us all like suspects and criminals?

This is not how you keep the peace.

This is not justice. This is not even law and order.

This is certainly not freedom. This is the illusion of freedom.

Unfortunately, we are now being ruled by a government of psychopaths, scoundrels, spies, thugs, thieves, gangsters, ruffians, rapists, extortionists, bounty hunters, battle-ready warriors and cold-blooded killers who communicate using a language of force and oppression.

The facts speak for themselves.

We’re being ravaged by a government of ruffians, rapists and killers. It’s not just the police shootings of unarmed citizens that are worrisome. It’s the SWAT team raids gone wrong that are leaving innocent citizens wounded, children terrorized and family pets killed. It’s the roadside strip searches—in some cases, cavity searches of men and women alike carried out in full view of the public—in pursuit of drugs that are never found. It’s the potentially lethal—and unwarranted—use of so-called “nonlethal” weapons such as tasers on children for “mouthing off to a police officer. For trying to run from the principal’s office. For, at the age of 12, getting into a fight with another girl.”

We’re being held at gunpoint by a government of soldiers—a standing army. While Americans are being made to jump through an increasing number of hoops in order to exercise their Second Amendment right to own a gun, the government is arming its own civilian employees to the hilt with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorizing them to make arrests, and training them in military tactics. Among the agencies being supplied with night-vision equipment, body armor, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and LP gas cannons are the Smithsonian, U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, IRS, FDA, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Education Department, Energy Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an assortment of public universities. There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government civilians armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the government’s arsenal, the transformation of local police into extensions of the military, and the speed with which the nation could be locked down under martial law depending on the circumstances. Clearly, the government is preparing for war—and a civil war, at that—and “we the people” are the perceived enemy.

We’re being taken advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots and cowards. American satirist H.L. Mencken calculated that “Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons.” By and large, Americans seem to agree. When you’ve got government representatives who spend a large chunk of their work hours fundraising, being feted by lobbyists, shuffling through a lucrative revolving door between public service and lobbying, and making themselves available to anyone with enough money to secure access to a congressional office, you’re in the clutches of a corrupt oligarchy. Mind you, these same elected officials rarely read the legislation they’re enacting, nor do they seem capable of enacting much legislation that actually helps rather than hinders the plight of the American citizen.

We’re being locked up by a government of greedy jailers. We have become a carceral state, spending three times more on our prisons than on our schools and imprisoning close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, despite the fact that crime is at an all-time low and the U.S. makes up only 5% of the world’s population. The rise of overcriminalization and profit-driven private prisons provides even greater incentives for locking up American citizens for such non-violent “crimes” as having an overgrown lawn.  As the Boston Review points out, “America’s contemporary system of policing, courts, imprisonment, and parole … makes money through asset forfeiture, lucrative public contracts from private service providers, and by directly extracting revenue and unpaid labor from populations of color and the poor. In states and municipalities throughout the country, the criminal justice system defrays costs by forcing prisoners and their families to pay for punishment. It also allows private service providers to charge outrageous fees for everyday needs such as telephone calls. As a result people facing even minor criminal charges can easily find themselves trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of debt, criminalization, and incarceration.”

We’re being spied on by a government of Peeping Toms. The government, aided by its corporate allies, is watching everything you do, reading everything you write, listening to everything you say, and monitoring everything you spend. Omnipresent surveillance is paving the way for government programs that profile citizens, document their behavior and attempt to predict what they might do in the future, whether it’s what they might buy, what politician they might support, or what kinds of crimes they might commit. The impact of this far-reaching surveillance, according to Psychology Today, is “reduced trust, increased conformity, and even diminished civic participation.” As technology analyst Jillian C. York concludes, “Mass surveillance without due process—whether undertaken by the government of Bahrain, Russia, the US, or anywhere in between—threatens to stifle and smother that dissent, leaving in its wake a populace cowed by fear.”

We’re being forced to surrender our freedoms—and those of our children—to a government of extortionists, money launderers and professional pirates. The American people have been repeatedly sold a bill of goods about how the government needs more money, more expansive powers, and more secrecy (secret courts, secret budgets, secret military campaigns, secret surveillance) in order to keep us safe. Under the guise of fighting its wars on terror, drugs, domestic extremism, pandemics and civil unrest, the government has spent billions in taxpayer dollars on endless wars that have sown the seeds of blowback, surveillance programs that have subjected all Americans to a surveillance society, and militarized police that have turned communities into warzones.

We’re being robbed blind by a government of thieves. Americans no longer have any real protection against government agents empowered to seize private property at will. For instance, police agencies under the guise of asset forfeiture laws are taking property based on little more than a suspicion of criminal activity.

And we’re being forced to live in a perpetual state of emergency. From 9/11 through the COVID-19 lockdowns and now the threat of martial law in the face of growing civil unrest, we have witnessed the rise of an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny and power grabs in the so-called name of national security.

Whatever else it may be—a danger, a menace, a threat—the U.S. government is certainly not looking out for our best interests, nor is it in any way a friend to freedom.

When the government views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their government, when government officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is unaccountable and unaccounted for, when the judiciary act as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution, then you no longer have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

What we have is a government of wolves.

Our backs are against the proverbial wall.

The government and its cohorts have conspired to ensure that the only real recourse the American people have to express their displeasure with the government is through voting, which is no real recourse at all.

The penalties for civil disobedience, whistleblowing and rebellion are severe. If you refuse to pay taxes for government programs you believe to be immoral or illegal, you will go to jail. If you attempt to overthrow the government—or any agency thereof—because you believe it has overstepped its reach, you will go to jail. If you attempt to blow the whistle on government misconduct, there’s a pretty good chance you will go to jail.

For too long, the American people have obeyed the government’s dictates, no matter now extreme. We have paid its taxes, penalties and fines, no matter how outrageous. We have tolerated its indignities, insults and abuses, no matter how egregious. We have turned a blind eye to its indiscretions and incompetence, no matter how imprudent. We have held our silence in the face of its lawlessness, licentiousness and corruption, no matter how illicit.

We have suffered.

How long we will continue to suffer depends on how much we’re willing to give up for the sake of freedom.

America’s founders provided us with a very specific explanation about the purpose of government and a roadmap for what to do when the government abuses its authority, ignores our objections, and establishes itself as a tyrant.

We must choose between peaceful slavery (in other words, maintaining the status quo in servitude to the police state) and dangerous freedom. That will mean carving out a path in which we begin to take ownership of our government, starting at the local level, challenging the status quo, and raising hell—nonviolently—whenever a government official steps out of line.

We can no longer maintain the illusion of freedom.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are at our most vulnerable right now.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2BsSPwN Tyler Durden

Idaho Town Taken Over By Armed ‘Patriot’ Patrols Amid Rumors Antifa Headed There

Idaho Town Taken Over By Armed ‘Patriot’ Patrols Amid Rumors Antifa Headed There

Tyler Durden

Tue, 06/02/2020 – 23:05

Amid rumors of mass protests and riots in the northwest Idaho city of Coeur d’Alene, some locals weren’t having it, and armed themselves to patrol city streets lined with small businesses

It’s a trend giving rise to fears that violent armed clashes between different American factions are imminent. Already videos from cities across the nation have depicted counter-demonstrators taking matters into their own hands as police retreat. 

“Reports and rumors that groups bent on rioting and violence in Coeur d’Alene brought out men and women with guns on Monday determined to stop them if they arrive,” local Idaho media reported.



Image source: Coer d’Alene/Post Falls Press

“Dan Carson was patrolling Sherman Avenue with an AR-12 automatic 12-gauge across his chest, an AR-15 strapped to his back, two 9mm handguns holstered and a .38 special, too,” the report continued.

Groups of loosely affiliated ‘Proud Boys’ and armed ‘patriots’ began lining the streets of downtown Coeur d’Alene over reports left wing militants and Antifa anarchists were planning to cause mayhem in the area:

Soon, more armed men, self-described as a loosely formed group of patriots, arrived. They took up posts at corners on both sides of Sherman Avenue.

Later, they were joined by hundreds of citizens packing rifles, semi-automatic weapons, handguns, and bows and arrows.

The sidewalks were packed with people walking up and down Sherman Avenue, firearms proudly displayed for all to see.

They carried guns, had them holstered around their hips and had them strapped across their backs.

As it turns out, a group of Black Lives Matter protesters did in parts of the city briefly face off with the ‘protect Idaho’ group of armed locals, however, the scene stayed peaceful and without incident, dispersing relatively early into the evening as the police monitored the situation. 



Image source: Coer d’Alene/Post Falls Press

Ultimately it appeared that in the downtown area it was only the armed patriot group which was out in force, unopposed. But the armed citizens patrols were in such large numbers they effectively took over the streets.

It’s a scene that’s also played out in places like Texas, where smaller towns and rural areas have vowed to keep rioters far away, also as individual citizens practice ‘open carry’ in states where it’s permissible. 

Armed citizen warns outsider in live stream (below):

“I’m telling you… if you guys are thinking about coming to Coeur d’Alene to riot or loot, you better fuckin think again, because we ain’t havin it over here.”

Everybody’s out and strapped… getting ready for the so-called invasion.”

WATCH:

But the trend suggests it could take a single ‘incident’ to spark a deadly encounter between such armed ‘citizens patrol’ groups and Antifa, BLM, or left-wing militants in locations across the nation.

Meanwhile, in San Bernardino County, California an armed clash between rival demonstrators nearly erupted:

Given that local and state police can barely handle the growing riots and random destruction as it is, such a scenario would send things escalating to far more violent proportions at flashpoints across the US. 

During the early momentum of riots taking over Minnesota’s twin cities – ground zero for the initial George Floyd protests that began late last week – local and state police came under intense criticism as they retreated from riot-hit parts of the city, leaving business owners to watch helplessly as their stores and in some cases homes burned the ground.

This and other scenes of lawlessness have resulted in a growing trend this week of armed ‘citizen patrols’ – adding to a potentially deadly combustible mix amid increasingly chaotic unpredictable scenarios on American city streets.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/36WeSrt Tyler Durden

The Senate Should Focus On What The Flynn Transcripts Do Not Contain… Starting With A Crime

The Senate Should Focus On What The Flynn Transcripts Do Not Contain… Starting With A Crime

Tyler Durden

Tue, 06/02/2020 – 22:45

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

Yesterday, the attorney hired by Judge Emmet Sullivan responded on his behalf to defend his controversial orders in the case to invite third parties to argue the merits of the motion to dismiss as well as raising his option to substitute his own criminal charge of perjury against Flynn.  The Justice Department responded with a 45-page filing to a three-judge appeals court panel.

The attention will now focus on the appearance tomorrow of former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the Senate.  For me, the most pertinent question is why this investigation continued past December and seemed to become to a search for a crime rather than the investigation of any crime or collusion with Russia.

“Remember … Ambassador, you’re not talking to a diplomat, you’re talking to a soldier.”

When President Trump’s incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, said those words to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, he also spoke to American intelligence agents listening in on the call. For three years, congressional Democrats have assured us Flynn’s calls to Kislyak were so disturbing that they set off alarms in the closing days of the Obama administration.

They were right. The newly released transcripts of Flynn’s calls are deeply disturbing — not for their evidence of criminality or collusion but for the total absence of such evidence. The transcripts, declassified Friday, strongly support new investigations by both the Justice Department and by Congress, starting with next week’s Senate testimony by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

It turns out Flynn’s calls are not just predictable but even commendable at points. When the Obama administration hit the Russians with sanctions just before leaving office, the incoming Trump administration sought to avoid a major conflict at the very start of its term. Flynn asked the Russian to focus on “common enemies” in order to seek cooperation in the Middle East. The calls covered a variety of issues, including the sanctions.

What was not discussed was any quid pro quo or anything untoward or unlawful. Flynn stated what was already known to be Trump policy in seeking a new path with Russia. Flynn did not offer to remove sanctions but, rather, encouraged the Russians to respond in a reciprocal, commensurate manner if they felt they had to respond.

The calls, and Flynn’s identity, were leaked by as many as nine officials as the Obama administration left office — a serious federal crime, given their classified status. The most chilling aspect of the transcripts, however, is the lack of anything chilling in the calls themselves. Flynn is direct with Kislyak in trying to tone down the rhetoric and avoid retaliatory moves. He told Kislyak, “l am a very practical guy, and it’s about solutions. It’s about very practical solutions that we’re — that we need to come up with here.” Flynn said he understood the Russians might wish to retaliate for the Obama sanctions but encouraged them not to escalate the conflict just as the Trump administration took office.

Kislyak later spoke with Flynn again and confirmed that Moscow agreed to tone down the conflict in the practical approach laid out by Flynn. The media has focused on Flynn’s later denial of discussing sanctions; the transcripts confirm he did indeed discuss sanctions. However, the Justice Department has not sought to dismiss criminal charges against him because he told the truth but because his statements did not meet a key element of materiality for the crime and were the result of troubling actions by high-ranking officials.

The real question is why the FBI continued to investigate Flynn in the absence of any crime or evidence of collusion. In December 2016, investigators had found no evidence of any crime by Flynn. They wanted to shut down the investigation; they were overruled by superiors, including FBI special agent Peter Strzok, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Director James Comey. Strzok told the investigators to keep the case alive, and McCabe is described as “cutting off” another high-ranking official who questioned the basis for continuing to investigate Flynn. All three officials were later fired, and all three were later found by career officials to have engaged in serious misconduct as part of the Russia investigation.

Recently disclosed information revealed that Comey and President Obama discussed using the Logan Act as a pretense for a criminal charge. The Logan Act criminalizes private negotiations with foreign governments; it is widely viewed as unconstitutional and has never been used successfully against any U.S. citizen since the earliest days of the Republic. Its use against the incoming national security adviser would have been absurd. Yet, that unconstitutional crime was the only crime Comey could come up with, long before there was a false statement by Flynn regarding his calls.

Not until February 2017 did Comey circumvent long-standing protocols and order an interview with Flynn. Comey later bragged that he “probably wouldn’t have … gotten away with it” in other administrations, but he sent “a couple guys over” to question Flynn, who was settling into his new office as national security adviser. We learned recently that Strzok discussed trying to get Flynn to give false or misleading information in that interview, to enable a criminal charge, and that FBI lawyer Lisa Page suggested agents “just casually slip” in a reference to the criminal provision for lying and then get Flynn to slip up on the details.

Flynn did slip up. While investigators said they were not convinced he intentionally lied, he gave a false statement. Later, special counsel Robert Mueller charged Flynn with that false statement, to pressure him into cooperating; Flynn fought the case into virtual bankruptcy but agreed to plead guilty when Mueller threatened to prosecute his son, too.

The newly released transcripts reveal the lack of a foundation for that charge. Courts have held that the materiality requirement for such a charge requires that misstatements be linked to the particular “subject of the investigation.” The Justice Department found that the false statement in February 2017 was not material “to any viable counterintelligence investigation — or any investigation, for that matter — initiated by the FBI.” In other words, by that time, these FBI officials had no crime under investigation but were, instead, looking for a crime. The question is: Why?

So the transcripts confirm there never was a scintilla of criminal conduct or evidence of collusion against Flynn before or during these calls. Indeed, there was no viable criminal investigation to speak of when Comey sent “a couple guys over” to entrap Flynn; they already had the transcripts and the knowledge that Flynn had done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, facing the release of these transcripts, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) bizarrely maintained that “Flynn posed a severe counterintelligence risk” because he could be blackmailed over his false statement.

Putting aside the lack of prior evidence of criminality, Schiff ignores that there were transcripts to prevent such blackmail. Indeed, in the interview, Flynn indicated he assumed there was a transcript, and leaked media reports indicated that various officials were familiar with the content of the calls. The key to blackmail would have been for the Russians to have information that others did not have.

Ironically, in his calls with Kislyak, Flynn expressly sought a more frank, honest relationship with Russia. He told Kislyak “we have to stop talking past each other on — so that means that we have to understand exactly what it is that we want to try to achieve, okay?” That is a question that should now be directed at the FBI, to understand what it was trying to achieve by continuing an investigation long after it ran out of crimes to investigate.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2XNX8tS Tyler Durden