China: A Positive Or Negative Influence In The World?

China: A Positive Or Negative Influence In The World?

According to a survey by Cambridge University and YouGov, unfavorable views of China have reached new highs in many countries.

As Statista’s Katharina Buchholz reports, out of 26 countries surveyed, negative views of China prevailed in 16 and were shared by an increasing number of respondents in those places since the poll started in 2019.

Infographic: China: A Positive or Negative Influence in the World? | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Positive views of China were shared by more people than not in 10 places, with the biggest majorities of respondents agreeing in Nigeria and Kenya, but also in Thailand, Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Views of China are broadly negative across most of the world’s advanced economies including approximately three-quarters of respondents in Japan, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Germany. To a lesser degree, the idea was reverberated in France, India, the United States and Canada. In Southern and Eastern Europe, feelings were more mixed but came down against China slightly. The criticism that the pandemic was badly handled as well as the rising of tensions between China and Taiwan have been noted as reasons why public opinion on China has deteriorated in some places.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/08/2023 – 05:45

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/IhmQKXn Tyler Durden

Welcome To The Global Recession, It Began In December Last Year

Welcome To The Global Recession, It Began In December Last Year

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

Consumer spending hit a brick wall in the US, EU, UK and Australia. Guess what that means…

Is the global consumer starting to capitulate?

Not Just EU

What About Australia?

There are limits to the amount of spending that can continue when savings is being drawn down.

“If these PCE figures are accurate, it looks like consumers may be moving faster than originally guessed.”

Question and Answer of the Day

“If the consumer capitulates, what will drive growth?”

Welcome to the Global Recession!

Bob Elliott and I have been in a running debate for a couple of months over jobs and a recession. 

I follow him because he always makes a strong case for his point of view: No Recession. 

Elliott is very data dependent, and cautious. This is the first I have seen him waver.

My “welcome” comment was not intended to be mocking, it’s simply how I feel. 

To be fair, I was early again, but not as early as some. I did not bite on the two consecutive quarters of negative GDP to start the year, but I did pencil in a recession starting in May. 

In October, retail sales forced me to admit my error. But in December, industrial production and retail sales put me back in the recession camp. 

Let’s go over the data.

Signs Say Industrial Production Has Peaked and so a Recession is Imminent

Recession lead times in months based on Fed data.

On January 18, 2023, I commented Signs Say Industrial Production Has Peaked and so a Recession is Imminent

Industrial production decreased 0.7 percent in December and 1.7 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter. 

Industrial Production Synopsis

  • Industrial production peaked in October

  • Manufacturing peaked in April with a double top in September

  • Consumer durable goods peaked in April

  • Manufacturing durable goods peaked in September

  • Motor vehicles and parts peaked in October

Recession lead times vs industrial production tend to be very small, typically 1-2 month. 2001 and 2020 were notable exceptions.

Existing Home Sales Decline for the Eleventh Straight Month

Existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors via St. Louis Fed

It was nearly a clean sweep for existing home sales in 2022, down every month except January.

For details, please see Existing Home Sales Decline for the Eleventh Straight Month

December Was Another Retail Sales Disaster

Retail sales from commerce department, chart by Mish

Month-Over-Month Advances and Declines

  • Food Service: -0.9 percent

  • Food Stores: +0.0 percent

  • Gas Stations: -4.6 Percent

  • General Merchandise: -0.8 Percent

  • Excluding Motor Vehicles and Gas: -0.7 Percent

  • Excluding Motor Vehicles: -1.1 Percent

  • Nonstore (Think Amazon): -1.1 Percent

  • Motor Vehicles: -1.2 Percent

  • Department Stores: -6.6 Percent

For further discussion, please see December Was Another Retail Sales Disaster, Even Worse With Negative Revisions

The BEA agreed with the advance numbers.

Personal Spending Hits a Solid Brick Wall in December Despite Rise in Income

Real Personal Consumption Expenditures from BEA, chart by Mish

On January 27, I noted Personal Spending Hits a Solid Brick Wall in December Despite Rise in Income

Brick Wall

  • Consumers literally hit the brick wall then went into reverse in November and December.

  • Real PCE fell 0.2 Percent in November and 0.3 percent in December.

  • Real PCE Goods were negative 0.9 percent in both months.

  • Real PCE Services rose 0.2 percent in November and was flat in December.

Data Consistent With Recession

Please see Alice Debates the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen on Timing the Recession

If for some reason you believe fourth-quarter GDP was robust, please see 4th Quarter 2022 GDP Is Much Weaker Than Headline Numbers, Recession Is Not Off.

Data is consistent with a recession starting in November or December.

When is the last time housing was down for a full year, industrial production down two months, and real spending down two months and the the economy was not in recession?

Factor in a decline in consumer spending in the EU, UK, and Australia and where are US exports headed? 

And with consumer spending falling off the cliff, how long will jobs stay strong? Strong enough to prevent a recession that history suggests has already started?

In Wonderland, jobs will save the day, assuming you believe the December Jobs data, but I don’t.

*  *  *

Please Subscribe to MishTalk Email Alerts.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/08/2023 – 05:00

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/KxmQfJn Tyler Durden

Mapping Global Geopolitical Uncertainty By Country

Mapping Global Geopolitical Uncertainty By Country

The Russia-Ukraine war highlighted how geopolitical risk can up-end supply chains and weaponize trade. More precisely, the war led to trade sanctions, a food crisis, and energy shortages.

In this graphic from The Hinrich Foundation, the third in a five-part series on the sustainability of trade, Visual Capitalist’s Jenna Ross explores how geopolitical risk differs by economy. It pulls data from the 2022 Sustainable Trade Index, which The Hinrich Foundation produced in collaboration with the IMD World Competitiveness Center.

Breaking Down Geopolitical Risk

Geopolitical risk has a strong correlation with GDP per capita, meaning that developing economies typically have less stability.

The following table shows how geopolitical risk breaks down for select economies that are covered in the 2022 Sustainable Trade Index. A lower number indicates less stability, while a higher number indicates more stability.

Economy Geopolitical Stability
Pakistan 5.2
Myanmar 9.9
Bangladesh 16.0
India 17.0
Mexico 17.9
Philippines 18.9
Papua New Guinea 20.3
Russia 20.8
Thailand 24.5
Indonesia 28.3
Ecuador 34.4
China 37.7
Peru 38.7
Cambodia 41.0
Vietnam 44.8
Sri Lanka 45.3
U.S. 46.2
Chile 49.1
Hong Kong 50.0
Malaysia 50.9
UK 61.3
South Korea 62.7
Laos 69.3
Taiwan 72.2
Australia 73.1
Japan 87.3
Canada 90.1
Brunei 90.6
Singapore 97.2
New Zealand 97.6

Source: World Bank, based on the latest available data from 2020. Values measure perceptions of political instability and violence, which are a proxy and precursor to geopolitical risk.

New Zealand has the highest level of stability, likely supported by the fact that it is a small nation with no direct neighbors. The country has taken steps to repair relationships with Indigenous peoples, through land and monetary settlements, though challenges remain. 

The U.S. has moderate stability. It has been impacted by increasing political polarization that has led to people having lower trust in institutions and more negative views of people from the opposing party. As the world’s largest economy, the U.S. also faces geopolitical risk such as escalating tariffs in the U.S.-China trade war. 

Want more insights into trade sustainability?

Download the 2022 Sustainable Trade Index for free.

Russia has one of the lowest levels of stability. The country’s invasion of Ukraine has led to war along with economic roadblocks that restrict normal trade activity. For instance, sanctions against Russia and blocked Ukrainian ports led to a food shortage. The two countries supply a third of the world’s wheat and 75% of the sunflower oil supply. 

The Impact of Geopolitical Uncertainty on Trade

Geopolitical risk can lead to civil unrest and war. It also has economic consequences including trade disruptions. As a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, the World Bank estimates that “world trade will drop by 1%, lowering global GDP by 0.7% and GDP of low-income economies by 1%.” A separate study found that Pakistan’s history of political instability has negatively affected trade in the country.

Of course, geopolitical risk is just one component of an economy’s trade sustainability. The Sustainable Trade Index uses a number of other metrics to measure economies’ ability to trade in a way that balances economic growth, societal development, and environmental protection. To learn more, visit the STI landing page where you can download the report for free.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/08/2023 – 04:15

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The WEF Wants To Hack Your Brain

The WEF Wants To Hack Your Brain

Authored by John Mac Ghlionn via The Epoch Times,

Once an idea reserved for the pages of dystopian sci-fi novels, brain hacking is already here. The elites in Davos appear to be interested in harnessing this technology to further their questionable agenda…

At a recent World Economic Forum (WEF) presentation, those in attendance were told that attempts to decode the human brain was already well underway. As Tim Hinchcliffe, a man who has been sounding the alarm on the WEF’s plans for years, noted, the presentation came five years after historian Yuval Noah Harari told those in Davos that human beings were entirely hackable. We are, in a nutshell, walking, breathing, living algorithms, according to the academic. Harari’s vision, at the time, was a thing of feverish fantasy. Now, though, this fantasy is fast becoming a reality.

At the WEF Annual Meeting 2023, The Atlantic’s CEO Nicholas Thompson chaired a session called “Ready for Brain Transparency?” The session opened with an Orwellian-inspired video showing a scenario in which employees’ brainwaves were monitored and decoded. Besides using the information gathered to evaluate employee performance, brainwaves were decoded to assess whether or not any individuals had participated in criminal activity.

Following the video, Duke University’s Nita Farahany, an expert on both the ethical and legal implications of emerging technologies, explained to the audience that methods of decoding brainwaves already exist. Certain technologies, she said, already allow powerful organizations and governments to “pick up and decode faces that you’re seeing in your mind—simple shapes, numbers, your PIN number to your bank account.”

A file photo of an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap used to study brain activity. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

“Artificial intelligence,” she continued, “has enabled advances in decoding brain activity in ways we never before thought possible.” All those thoughts and feelings bubbling around inside, added Farahany, are just pieces of data, adding that this data can be decoded using artificial intelligence (AI). Contrary to popular belief, devices used to decode this “data” needn’t be as invasive as Elon Musk’s neural implants. According to Farahany, devices used are more like Fitbits for the human brain. “We’re not talking about implanted devices of the future; I’m talking about wearable devices that are like Fitbits for your brain,” she concluded in a rather chirpy tone.

On the same day Farahany was giving her presentation, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was also in Davos. Like Farahany, Stoltenberg probably knows his fair share about brain hacking. In 2021, NATO chaired a forum exploring the “‘weaponization of brain sciences” and exploiting the “‘vulnerabilities of the human brain.” As reported by Project Censored, an organization dedicated to the promotion of investigative journalism, greater media literacy, and critical thinking, the forum was created to explore “more sophisticated forms of social engineering and control.” This explains why, in the two years since the forum, NATO has added a sixth level to its five operational domains (air, land, sea, space, and cyber): the cognitive domain.

In a NATO-approved piece, experts from Johns Hopkins University and Imperial College London discuss the many ways in which the human mind should be considered a battlefield. Cognitive warfare, they noted, involves much more than changing what people think; it also involves changing people’s behaviors. “Waged successfully,” reads the piece, cognitive warfare “shapes and influences individual and group beliefs and behaviours to favour an aggressor’s tactical or strategic objectives.” The aggressors “could conceivably subdue a society without resorting to outright force or coercion.” NATO’s purpose, it’s important to remember, is to keep us safe. That purpose appears to be changing.

From the origin of the coronavirus to claims of Russian collusion, this is the golden age of information warfare. But the golden age, with its focus on media control, is currently evolving. As the academics Tzu-Chieh Hung and Tzu-Wei Hung explained in an article last year, cognitive warfare extends from focusing solely on media control to explicit brain control. Cognitive warfare seeks to weaponize “neurological resources” as well as “mass communication techniques.” Whereas information warfare focuses almost entirely on the input of information, cognitive warfare focuses on both the input and the output (that is, our behaviors).

One needn’t be a card-carrying QAnon member to read the above and feel a profound sense of dismay. Talks of hacking the brain are straight out of communist China. As I write this, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is already using cognitive warfare to subdue the enemy. In the not-so-distant future, the unelected globalists in Davos and Brussels, home to NATO’s headquarters, could use the very same technology to subdue us.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/08/2023 – 03:30

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/l5GbiYZ Tyler Durden

French Strikes Halt Fuel Shipments From Refineries And A Fuel Depot

French Strikes Halt Fuel Shipments From Refineries And A Fuel Depot

The French nationwide strike over proposed pension reform (Macron is seeking to raise the retirement age from 62 to, gasp, 64; the French say “non”) which we profiled last week, interrupted on Tuesday the shipment of fuels from refineries and a fuel depot of TotalEnergies, the French supermajor told Reuters.

Workers and employees in various sectors, including the energy sector, civil servants, and teachers, have been staging strikes for weeks to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age.  

Workers at the oil refineries at Donges and Feyzin, operated by TotalEnergies, are on strike today, a representative of the Force Ouvriere trade union told Reuters. Workers at the fuel depot Flandres have also joined the massive industrial action in France, the official added.  

As Oilprice notes, this is not the first time that fuel deliveries have been disrupted by strikes this year. 

Two weeks ago, the strike in France halted wholesale fuel deliveries from three refineries operated by TotalEnergies on the first day of a series of planned nationwide strikes in many sectors. The Donges, Normandy, and Feyzin refineries of TotalEnergies stopped the wholesale supply of gasoline and diesel, while the refinery at Feyzin had to reduce processing rates to a minimum on January 19.

TotalEnergies and the French unit of ExxonMobil hold most of the refining capacity in France. The strikes against Macron’s unpopular pension reform are expected to continue.

The most recent wave of strikes comes three months after refinery workers went on strike for weeks in September and October amid a pay row. Strikes at refineries in France in the autumn of 2022 left more than 60% of the country’s refining capacity offline while gas stations in and around Paris and in the northern part of the country began to run out of fuel.

The strikes against the planned pension reform also come just as the EU banned imports of petroleum products from Russia as of February 5.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/08/2023 – 02:45

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Truth About Tanks: How NATO Lied Its Way To Disaster In Ukraine

Truth About Tanks: How NATO Lied Its Way To Disaster In Ukraine

Authored by Scott Ritter,

Tank warfare has evolved. The large force-on-force armored battles that were the hallmark of much of WWII, the Arab-Israeli conflicts, which served as the foundation of operational doctrine for both NATO and the Soviet Union (and which was implemented in full by the United States during Operation Desert Storm in 1991), has run its course.

Like most military technological innovations, the ability to make a modern main battle tank survivable has been outstripped by the fielding of defensive systems designed to overcome such defenses. If a modern military force attempted to launch a large-scale tank-dominated attack against a well-equipped peer-level opponent armed with modern anti-tank missiles, the result would be a decisive defeat for the attacking party marked by the smoking hulks of burned-out tanks.

Don’t get me wrong: tanks still have a vital role to play on the modern battlefield. Their status as a mobile bunker is invaluable in the kind of meat-grinder conflicts of attrition that have come to define the current stage of large-scale ground combat. Speed and armor still contribute to survivability, and the main gun of a tank remains one of the deadliest weapons on the modern battlefield.

But the modern tank performs best as part of a combined arms team, supported by infantry (mounted and unmounted) and copious amounts of supporting arms (artillery and close air support.) As part of such a team, especially one that is well-trained in the art of close combat, the tank remains an essential weapon of war. However, if operated in isolation, a tank is simply an expensive mobile coffin.

Much has been made about the recent decision made by NATO and allied nations to provide Western main battle tanks to Ukraine. The politics of this decision is its own separate topic. This article will address the operational practicalities of this decision, namely has the military capability of Ukraine been enhanced through the provision of these new weapons systems.

To answer this question, one needs to examine three basic issues: training, logistical sustainability, and operational employment.

Training

It takes 22 weeks to train a basic American M1 Abrams crewmember. That training just gives the soldier the very basic skill set to be functional. Actual operational expertise is only achieved through months, if not years, of additional training in not just the system itself, but employing it as part of a similarly trained combine arms team. Simply put, even a Ukrainian tank crew experienced in the operation of Soviet-era T-72 or T-64 tanks will not be able to immediately transition to a Western-style main battle tank.

T-72B3M main battle tanks from the 1st Guards Tank Regiment at Red Square

First and foremost, the crew size of a Soviet-era tank is three, reflecting the reality that the Soviet tanks make use of an automatic loading mechanism. Western tanks have four crew members because the loading of the main tank gun is done manually. Adapting to these dynamics takes time, and requires extensive training.

Training is expensive. NATO is currently providing Ukraine with three types of Western main battle tank: the British Challenger 2, the German Leopard 2, and the American M1A2. There is no unified training course—each tank requires its own unique training prospectus that is not directly transferable to another system.

The decentralized training processes created by such a diverse approach promotes inefficiencies and generates discrepancies in outcome—one crew will not be like another, which in combat, where units are supposed to be interchangeable to promote predictable outcomes if all other circumstances remain the same, is usually fatal.

Moreover, these problems will only be enhanced by the emphasis that will be placed on rapid outcomes. The reality is whatever training programs that are developed and delivered by the nations providing the tanks will be insufficient to the task, resulting in poorly trained crews taking extremely complicated weapons systems into the most dangerous environment in the world for a tank—the teeth of a Russian Army designed and equipped to kill these very same tanks.

Logistical Sustainability

Tanks are among the most technically challenging weapons systems on a modern battlefield. They are constantly breaking down, especially if not properly maintained. For the M1 Abrams, for every hour a tank is in the field, there are three hours of maintenance time required. This problem only becomes magnified in combat.

Normally an armor unit is equipped with highly specialized organic maintenance crews that can repair most of the minor issues that can sideline a tank. Given the training requirements to produce this level of high-quality mechanic, it is unlikely Ukraine will be provided with this kind of maintenance support.

A Ukrainian artilleryman throws an empty 155MM shell tube as Ukrainian soldiers fire a M777 howitzer towards Russian positions on the frontline of eastern Ukraine, on November 23, 2022.

This means that the tanks that are being provided to Ukraine will need to be returned to NATO nations for any significant repairs of equipment that is damaged through simple usage or actual combat. In short, it is highly likely that a Western main battle tank in Ukrainian hands will break down at some point during its operational use by Ukraine, meaning that the total number of tanks available to Ukraine will be far less than the number of tanks provided.

Operational Employment

Ukraine’s commander in chief of the Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, told The Economist last month that he needed 300 tanks, 500 infantry fighting vehicles, and 500 artillery pieces, if he were going to have any chance of defeating [Russia].

Following the January 20 meeting of the Ramstein Contact Group, and subsequent follow-on discussions about the provision of tanks, NATO and its allied partners have agreed to provide less than 50% of the number of tanks requested, less than 50% of the number of infantry fighting vehicles requested, and less than 20% of the artillery requested.

Moreover, the timetable for delivery of this equipment is staggered incoherently over a period that stretches out for many months, and in some cases extends into the next year. Not only does this complicate training and logistical sustainability issues that are already unfavorably inclined for Ukraine, but it makes any meaningful effort to integrate this material into a cohesive operational employment plan all but impossible. In short, Ukraine will be compelled to commit the equipment provided—especially the tanks—into combat in piecemeal fashion.

The truth about tanks is that NATO and its allied nations are making Ukraine weaker, not stronger, by providing them with military systems that are overly complicated to operate, extraordinarily difficult to maintain, and impossible to survive unless employed in a cogent manner while supported by extensive combined arms partners.

The decision to provide Ukraine with Western main battle tanks is, literally, a suicide pact, something those who claim they are looking out for the best interests of Ukraine should consider before it is too late.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/08/2023 – 02:00

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Balloon With 3 Hypersonic Missiles Tested By China In 2018

Balloon With 3 Hypersonic Missiles Tested By China In 2018

Authored by Andrew Thornebrooke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Chinese state-owned television aired footage of a high-altitude balloon dropping hypersonic weapons in 2018.

China tested hypersonic glide vehicles dropped from a balloon in 2018, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. (Screenshot via Chinese social media)

The stunning footage displays a high-altitude balloon, not dissimilar from the one that traversed over the United States last week, carrying three hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) into high altitude and dropping them for testing.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on the weapons test in September 2018. The footage has since been deleted from Chinese media, but photographs and short clips can still be found online.

In one post from 2018, a Twitter user shared footage from Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, which shows the balloon lifting the three HGVs from the ground.

HGVs are generally launched by rockets in a similar manner to traditional missiles. Upon reaching orbit, however, HGVs detach from the rocket and fly through the atmosphere using their own momentum.

Such weapons are much faster than other missiles while they are in low orbit, but become much slower upon hitting the dense air of the atmosphere as they have no jets to power them. The three HGVs dropped by the balloon in the footage appear to have been designed to test this phenomenon.

The balloon-dropped HGVs were part of an effort to develop precision warheads for hypersonic weapons, which would give the Chinese military an “unstoppable nuclear-capable weapon,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Read more here…

Tyler Durden
Tue, 02/07/2023 – 23:50

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New York City Dominates America’s Fine-Dining Capitals

New York City Dominates America’s Fine-Dining Capitals

Receiving a Michelin star is still the highest honor for a restaurant and more than 200 in the United States currently hold the distinction.

As Statista’s Katharina Buchholz details below, Michelin-star restaurants cluster around the country’s biggest metros and most can be found in New York City.

Diners there have a large variety to pick from, including Michelin-starred Mexican at Casa Enrique in Long Island City, contemporary Scandinavian cooking at Brooklyn’s Aska or modern, set family-style meals at Family Meal in Manhattan. A total of 72 restaurants in the city currently have at least one Michelin star. 12 boast two stars and five even have three stars, also the highest number of any U.S. city.

Infographic: The U.S. Fine Dining Capitals | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

San Francisco and the Bay Area come in second in the ranking, with 38 highly-awarded eateries stretching from the North Bay through Palo Alto all the way to Saratoga. Restaurants offering different Asian cuisines are most often Michelin-starred in the area, followed by those offering contemporary or so-called Californian fare, which is focused on local and seasonal ingredients as well as fresh vegetables and lean meats. 

The dining scene is quite similar in Greater Los Angeles, where 28 star-studded restaurants are welcoming well-heeled customers from Hollywood to Costa Mesa. Another place where Michelin-starred restaurants are typically found in the United States is Napa Valley north of San Francisco, where plush dining rooms looks out over the countryside.

Washington D.C. and Chicago have fewer Michelin-starred restaurants than Californian cities, but in contrast to Greater Los Angeles, both places boast one locale with three Michelin stars each. Alinea in Chicago offers contemporary cooking that borders on the performative with dishes that flip and other tricks that the Michelin website describes as “tableside fun”. In Washington D.C., The Inn at Little Washington is a more traditional joint that dishes up intricate vegetable creations and grows many ingredients on site.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 02/07/2023 – 23:30

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Does The FBI Have Spies In Congress?

Does The FBI Have Spies In Congress?

Authored by Ken Silva via Headline USA,

House Republicans vow to pull no punches when investigating the FBI this session of Congress. The bureau may be monitoring them in return.

Christopher Wray / PHOTO: AP

This is according to attorney Jesse Trentadue, who about a decade ago uncovered the FBI’s “sensitive informant program.” He said the bureau uses it to embed informants in the media, congressional offices, churches, defense teams and other “sensitive” institutions.

Trentadue never found direct evidence of FBI informants operating in Congress—but that’s because a federal court struck down his lawsuit seeking records about such activity in 2015.

Nearly eight years later, Trentadue told Headline USA that he hopes the newly formed House select subcommittee to investigate the weaponization of the federal government will resume what his lawsuit started. Doing so would be in Congress’s best interest, he said.

Trentadue first caught wind of the sensitive informant program in 2011, while prepping for a separate lawsuit. His friend and fellow investigator, Roger Charles, had discovered an FBI memo showing that a journalist at ABC News was also doubling as a federal informant.

The journalist, whose name is not disclosed in the document labeled ‘secret,’ not only cooperated but provided the identity of a confidential source, according to the FBI memo—a possible breach of journalistic ethics if he or she did not have the source’s permission,” the Center for Public Integrity wrote in April 2011 about the finding.

While the story moved through the news cycle quickly with little impact, it prompted Trentadue to file records requests with the FBI to see if the bureau had other informants in the media, as well as places such as congressional offices, courts, churches, other government agencies and even the White House.

“I thought they’d come back and say, ‘We would never do that because that would be illegal and unconstitutional,’” he said. “Instead, they came back and said, ‘Yeah, we do that. We have manuals on that, but you can’t have them because of national security.’”

Trentadue filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over the matter in 2012, seeking unredacted copies of the FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, the FBI Confidential Human Source Validation Standards Manual, the FBI Confidential Human Source Policy Manual and the FBI Confidential Human Source Policy Implementation Guide.

After about two years of litigation, the FBI moved for a summary judgment in April 2014, arguing that it should be allowed to exercise FOIA’s national security exemptions to keep the manuals secret.

Included with the FBI’s motion was a sworn declaration from Eric Velez–Villar, the assistant director of the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence at the time, who told the court that Trentadue’s lawsuit threatened to “disclose critical tools utilized by the FBI in its investigations and intelligence gathering efforts.”

The head of the CIA’s litigation support unit, Martha Lutz, also submitted a sworn statement, telling the court that disclosing the FBI manuals could compromise CIA sources.

Trentadue opposed the FBI’s motion for summary judgment and the two parties argued at a November 2014 hearing. But after reviewing the unredacted manuals in private, Judge Kimball said the FBI could keep the manuals secret.

Kimball noted that government agencies are “entitled to considerable deference” when they exercise national security or law enforcement exemptions—unless there’s evidence of bad faith by government actors. Then, he said, the courts have no power to make government agencies disclose secret information.

Kimball ordered the case closed on June 9, 2015.

While some might defend the FBI’s sensitive informant program as necessary for national security, Trentadue said the records he’s uncovered—such as the FBI memo revealing its informant at ABC News—show that the bureau has far overstepped its boundaries.

With recent disclosures like the Twitter Files having shed more light on the agency’s role in partisan censorship campaigns and election-meddling, others might agree.

“This isn’t the case of the FBI investigating corruption,” Trentadue said. “The bureau is recruiting spies in an effort to infiltrate and influence.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 02/07/2023 – 21:50

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Number Of Foreign Workers In Japan Reaches Record High

Number Of Foreign Workers In Japan Reaches Record High

The number of foreigners working in Japan has reached a new high of almost 1.7 million.

As Statista’s Katharina Buchholz reports, after years of slow growth in the number of foreign workers admitted into the country, Japan has increased its efforts to attract them in the past couple of years.

Infographic: Number of Foreign Workers in Japan at Record High | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Since the Japanese population is aging rapidly, the Japanese government is feeling the need to bring in talent from abroad.

Immigrants, mainly from developing Asian countries, but also from the West, are now coming to Japan in larger numbers. Since 2014, the number of foreigners working in Japan has more than doubledaccording to data by MHLW Japan (link in Japanese). The Japanese government revised immigration and refugee recognition laws in early 2019 with the aim of accepting an additional 340,000 workers to the country. Some special provisions were also taken to attract nurses, restaurant workers and laborers. In December of 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe und his cabinet had already adopted measures to foster the coexistence of Japanese and foreign nationals that came at a price tag of US$55.3 million.

In the light of all this, it appears the country is indeed serious about a more multicultural future. Still, this new vision of Japanese society might be a hard sell: The measures adopted have drawn some controversy and have even led to kerfuffles during parliamentary debates. Right-wing politicians slammed the reform saying it would bring in crime and destroy the homogenous Japanese society.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 02/07/2023 – 21:30

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