It’s Un-American To Be Anti-Free Speech: Protect The Right To Criticize The Government

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet.” – Justice William O. Douglas

Unjust. Brutal. Criminal. Corrupt. Inept. Greedy. Power-hungry. Racist. Immoral. Murderous. Evil. Dishonest. Crooked. Excessive. Deceitful. Untrustworthy. Unreliable. Tyrannical.

These are all words that have at some time or other been used to describe the U.S. government.

These are all words that I have used at some time or other to describe the U.S. government. That I may feel morally compelled to call out the government for its wrongdoing does not make me any less of an American.

If I didn’t love this country, it would be easy to remain silent. However, it is because I love my country, because I believe fervently that if we lose freedom here, there will be no place to escape to, I will not remain silent.

Nor should you.

Nor should any other man, woman or child—no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or what they believe.

This is the beauty of the dream-made-reality that is America. As Chelsea Manning recognized,We’re citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear.

Indeed, the First Amendment does more than give us a right to criticize our country: it makes it a civic duty. Certainly, if there is one freedom among the many spelled out in the Bill of Rights that is especially patriotic, it is the right to criticize the government.

The right to speak out against government wrongdoing is the quintessential freedom.

Unfortunately, those who run the government don’t take kindly to individuals who speak truth to power. In fact, the government has become increasingly intolerant of speech that challenges its power, reveals its corruption, exposes its lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.

This is nothing new, nor is it unique to any particular presidential administration.

President Trump, who delights in exercising his right to speak (and tweet) freely about anything and everything that raises his ire, has shown himself to be far less tolerant of those with whom he disagrees, especially when they exercise their right to criticize the government.

In his first few years in office, Trump has declared the media to be “the enemy of the people,” suggested that protesting should be illegal, and that NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem “shouldn’t be in the country.” More recently, Trump lashed out at four Democratic members of Congress—all women of color— who have been particularly critical of his policies, suggesting that they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Fanning the flames of controversy, White House advisor Kellyanne Conway suggested that anyone who criticizes the country, disrespects the flag, and doesn’t support the Trump Administration’s policies should also leave the country.

The uproar over Trump’s “America—love it or leave it” remarks have largely focused on its racist overtones, but that misses the point: it’s un-American to be anti-free speech.

It’s unfortunate that Trump and his minions are so clueless about the Constitution. Then again, Trump is not alone in his presidential disregard for the rights of the citizenry, especially as it pertains to the right of the people to criticize those in power.

President Obama signed into law anti-protest legislation that makes it easier for the government to criminalize protest activities (10 years in prison for protesting anywhere in the vicinity of a Secret Service agent). The Obama Administration also waged a war on whistleblowers, which The Washington Postdescribed as “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration,” and “spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records.”

Part of the Patriot Act signed into law by President George W. Bush made it a crime for an American citizen to engage in peaceful, lawful activity on behalf of any group designated by the government as a terrorist organization. Under this provision, even filing an amicus brief on behalf of an organization the government has labeled as terrorist would constitute breaking the law.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the FBI to censor all news and control communications in and out of the country in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt also signed into law the Smith Act, which made it a crime to advocate by way of speech for the overthrow of the U.S. government by force or violence.

President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Espionage and Sedition Acts, which made it illegal to criticize the government’s war efforts.

President Abraham Lincoln seized telegraph lines, censored mail and newspaper dispatches, and shut down members of the press who criticized his administration.

In 1798, during the presidency of John Adams, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it a crime to “write, print, utter or publish … any false, scandalous, and malicious” statements against the government, Congress or president of the United States.

Clearly, the government has been undermining our free speech rights for quite a while now, but Trump’s antagonism towards free speech is much more overt.

For example, at a recent White House Social Media Summit, Trump defined free speech as follows: “To me free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech.”

Except Trump is about as wrong as one can be on this issue.

Good, bad or ugly, it’s all free speech unless as defined by the government it falls into one of the following categories: obscenity, fighting words, defamation (including libel and slander), child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, and solicitations to commit crimes.

This idea of “dangerous” speech, on the other hand, is peculiarly authoritarian in nature. What it amounts to is speech that the government fears could challenge its chokehold on power.

The kinds of speech the government considers dangerous enough to red flag and subject to censorship, surveillance, investigation, prosecution and outright elimination include: hate speech, bullying speech, intolerant speech, conspiratorial speech, treasonous speech, threatening speech, incendiary speech, inflammatory speech, radical speech, anti-government speech, right-wing speech, left-wing speech, extremist speech, politically incorrect speech, etc.

Conduct your own experiment into the government’s tolerance of speech that challenges its authority, and see for yourself.

Stand on a street corner—or in a courtroom, at a city council meeting or on a university campus—and recite some of the rhetoric used by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Adams and Thomas Paine without referencing them as the authors.

For that matter, just try reciting the Declaration of Independence, which rejects tyranny, establishes Americans as sovereign beings, recognizes God (not the government) as the Supreme power, portrays the government as evil, and provides a detailed laundry list of abuses that are as relevant today as they were 240-plus years ago.

My guess is that you won’t last long before you get thrown out, shut up, threatened with arrest or at the very least accused of being a radical, a troublemaker, a sovereign citizen, a conspiratorialist or an extremist.

Try suggesting, as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin did, that Americans should not only take up arms but be prepared to shed blood in order to protect their liberties, and you might find yourself placed on a terrorist watch list and vulnerable to being rounded up by government agents.

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms,” declared Jefferson. He also concluded that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Observed Franklin: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”

Better yet, try suggesting as Thomas Paine, Marquis De Lafayette, John Adams and Patrick Henry did that Americans should, if necessary, defend themselves against the government if it violates their rights, and you will be labeled a domestic extremist.

“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government,” insisted Paine. “When the government violates the people’s rights,” Lafayette warned, “insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.” Adams cautioned, “A settled plan to deprive the people of all the benefits, blessings and ends of the contract, to subvert the fundamentals of the constitution, to deprive them of all share in making and executing laws, will justify a revolution.” And who could forget Patrick Henry with his ultimatum: “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Then again, perhaps you don’t need to test the limits of free speech for yourself.

One such test is playing out before our very eyes on the national stage led by none other than the American Police State’s self-appointed Censor-in-Chief, who seems to believe that only individuals who agree with the government are entitled to the protections of the First Amendment.

To the contrary, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, was very clear about the fact that the First Amendment was established to protect the minority against the majority.

I’ll take that one step further: the First Amendment was intended to protect the citizenry from the government’s tendency to censor, silence and control what people say and think.

Having lost our tolerance for free speech in its most provocative, irritating and offensive forms, the American people have become easy prey for a police state where only government speech is allowed. You see, the powers-that-be understand that if the government can control speech, it controls thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry.

This is how freedom rises or falls.

As Hermann Goering, one of Hitler’s top military leaders, remarked during the Nuremberg trials:

It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

It is working the same in this country, as well.

Americans of all stripes would do well to remember that those who question the motives of government provide a necessary counterpoint to those who would blindly follow where politicians choose to lead.

We don’t have to agree with every criticism of the government, but we must defend the rights of allindividuals to speak freely without fear of punishment or threat of banishment.

Never forget: what the architects of the police state want are submissive, compliant, cooperative, obedient, meek citizens who don’t talk back, don’t challenge government authority, don’t speak out against government misconduct, and don’t step out of line.

What the First Amendment protects—and a healthy constitutional republic requires—are citizens who routinely exercise their right to speak truth to power.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, tolerance for dissent is vital if we are to survive as a free nation.

While there are all kinds of labels being put on so-called “unacceptable” speech today, the real message being conveyed by those in power is that Americans don’t have a right to express themselves if what they are saying is unpopular, controversial or at odds with what the government determines to be acceptable.

By suppressing free speech, the government is contributing to a growing underclass of Americans who are being told that they can’t take part in American public life unless they “fit in.”

Mind you, it won’t be long before anyone who believes in holding the government accountable to respecting our rights and abiding by the rule of law is labeled an “extremist,” is relegated to an underclass that doesn’t fit in, must be watched all the time, and is rounded up when the government deems it necessary.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what politics you subscribe to, or what God you worship: we are all potential suspects, terrorists and lawbreakers in the eyes of the government.

In other words, if and when this nation falls to tyranny, we will all suffer the same fate: we will fall together.

The stamping boot of tyranny is but one crashing foot away.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2Lv6Z4b Tyler Durden

Cops Bust Fake Ferrari And Lamborghini Factory In Brazil

O Globo, a Brazilian newspaper based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, reported on Tuesday that a small factory in the southern state of Santa Catarina was producing fake Ferraris and Lamborghinis for $45,000 to $60,000, a substantial discount versus the retail price of a genuine supercar.

The investigation behind the counterfeit vehicles started when representatives of Ferrari and Lamborghini began to notice pictures of the fake supercars circulating social media contacted the Civil Police of Santa Catarina. From there, police launched a raid on Monday of the factory where they discovered a father and son team, along with other employees, working on at least eight replicas at the time. The police used flatbed trucks and seized all vehicles inside the facility for evidence.

Police said there were only three models being produced at the time of the raid: Lamborghini Gallardo and Huracan, and a Ferrari 430 lookalike.

Fake parts, with some including fraudulent engravings of the original manufacturer, were also seized in operation.

Police aren’t sure how many cars were manufactured at the unauthorized facility, nor do they know if other models were sold. Former employees are expected to testify where more clarity into the size of the operation could be determined.

The raid comes several weeks after Ferrari won a court case against a company offering to build replicas of the 250 GTO, an authentic version of the 1960s supercar has a price tag of $38 million to $48 million.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2y12WDO Tyler Durden

Escobar: Western Intellectuals Freak Over “Frankenstein” China

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

China seen as a rich Communist monster buying support from poor and corrupt states worldwide…

Western economists and intellectuals obsessed with demonization of China are never shy of shortcuts glaringly exposing their ignorance.

The latest outburst posits that “we” – as in Western intellectuals – “are the modern version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” who electro-shocked a dead body (China) into a resurrected “murderous monster.”

So, welcome to the Sino-Frankenstein school of international relations. What next? A black and white remake with Xi Jinping playing the monster? Anyway, “we” – as in mankind’s best hope – should “avoid carrying on in the role of Frankenstein.”

The author is an economics professor emeritus at Harvard. He cannot even identify who’s to blame for Frankenstein – the West or the Chinese. That says much about Harvard’s academic standards.

Now, compare this with what was being discussed at a trade war symposium at Renmin University in Beijing this past Saturday.

Chinese intellectuals were trying to frame the current geopolitical dislocation provoked by the Trump administration’s trade war – without naming it for what it is: a Frankenstein gambit.

Li Xiangyang, director of the National Institute of International Strategy, a think tank linked to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stressed that an “economic decoupling” of the US from China is “completely possible,” considering that “the ultimate [US] target is to contain China’s rise… This is a life-or-death game” for the United States.

Decoupling

Assuming the decoupling would take place, that could be easily perceived as “strategic blackmail” imposed by the Trump administration. Yet what the Trump administration wants is not exactly what the US establishment wants – as shown by an open letter to Trump signed by scores of academics, foreign policy experts and business leaders who are worried that “decoupling” China from the global economy – as if Washington could actually pull off such an impossibility – would generate massive blowback.

What may actually happen in terms of a US-China “decoupling” is what Beijing is already, actively working on: extending trade partnerships with the EU and across the Global South.

And that will lead, according to Li, to the Chinese leadership offering deeper and wider market access to its partners. This will soon be the case with the EU, as discussed in Brussels in the spring.

Sun Jie, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that deepening partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be essential in case a decoupling is in the cards.

For his part Liu Qing, an economics professor at Renmin University, stressed the need for top international relations management, dealing with everyone from Europe to the Global South, to prevent their companies from replacing Chinese companies in selected global supply chains.

And Wang Xiaosong, an economics professor at Renmin University, emphasized that a concerted Chinese strategic approach in dealing with Washington is absolutely paramount.

All about Belt and Road

A few optimists among Western intellectuals would rather characterize what is going on as a vibrant debate between proponents of “restraint” and “offshore balancing” and proponents of “liberal hegemony”. In fact, it’s actually a firefight.

Among the Western intellectuals singled out by the puzzled Frankenstein guy, it is virtually impossible to find another voice of reason to match Martin Jacques, now a senior fellow at Cambridge University. When China Rules the World, his hefty tome published 10 years ago, still leaps out of an editorial wasteland of almost uniformly dull publications by so-called Western “experts” on China.

Jacques has understood that now it’s all about the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative:

“BRI has the potential to offer another kind of world, another set of values, another set of imperatives, another way of organizing, another set of institutions, another set of relationships.”

Belt and Road, adds Jacques, “offers an alternative to the existing international order. The present international order was designed by and still essentially privileges the rich world, which represents only 15% of the world’s population. BRI, on the other hand, is addressing at least two-thirds of the world’s population. This is extraordinarily important for this moment in history.”

In fact, we are already entering a Belt and Road 2.0 scenario – defined by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi as a “high-quality” shift from “big freehand” to “fine brushwork.”

At the Belt and Road Forum this past spring in Beijing, 131 nations were represented, engaged in linked projects. Belt and Road is partnering with 29 international organizations from the World Bank to APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Apart from the fact that Belt and Road is now configured as a vast, unique, Eurasia-wide infrastructure and trade development project extending all the way to Africa and Latin America, Beijing is now emphasizing that it’s also a portmanteau brand encompassing bilateral trade relations, South-South cooperation and UN-endorsed sustainable development goals.

China’s trade with Belt and Road-linked nations reached $617.5 billion in the first half of 2019 – up 9.7% year-on-year and outpacing the growth rate of China’s total trade.

Chinese scholar Wang Jisi was right from the start when he singled out Belt and Road as a “strategic necessity” to counter Barack Obama’s now-defunct “pivot to Asia”.

So now it’s time for Western intellectuals to engage in a freak-out: as it stands, Belt and Road is the new Frankenstein.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/32FR7ky Tyler Durden

These Two Charts Reveal The Extraordinary Collapse In Australian Homeownership 

A housing affordability crisis has been gaining momentum in Australia over the last several decades as the number of people outright owning a home has collapsed by a third as home prices soared 400%.

The Age, a daily newspaper in Melbourne and Victoria, Australia, reports that in the mid-1990s, nearly 44% of people living in New South Wales (NWS), a southeastern Australian state, outright owned their home, but according to new data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this rate has now plummeted to just 29.7%.

So what happened over the last twenty years? Why have Australians resorted to hefty mortgages instead of buying homes in cash?

Well, the swing from outright ownership to financing has primarily been due to a 460% jump in the median house price in Sydney, approaching levels that are considered out of reach for many.

The Age reveals a similar crisis in Victoria, wherein the mid-1990s, more than 45% outright owned a home, but now that number has declined to just 31%.

Over the same period, the median house price in Melbourne has skyrocketed from $126,131 to $806,000, forcing homebuyers in the last decade to resort to mortgages more than ever.

The Northern Territory has the smallest population of people who own their home mortgage-free, at just 17%. Among the states, just 27% of residents in Queensland and Western Australia live without a mortgage or rental payments.

Despite a housing bubble that has shown cracks, the median outstanding mortgage in Western Australia is $315,000. The median mortgage in Victoria is $260,000 while it is $265,000 in NSW.

The single largest age group of new mortgages were those aged between 55 and 64, suggesting as the housing market falters – older adults will experience the most financial pain.

“There are more and more people who are getting into retirement with a mortgage over their heads,” said National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke.

“The number of people on Newstart aged between 55 and 64 is increasing sharply. These are people having to access their super to try and get on top of their mortgage because they don’t want to retire with such large debts.”

The affordability crisis has crushed low-income households. In the mid-1990s, the poorest of NSW resident spent 21% of their weekly income on housing; now they spend more than a third.

The low-income segment in Victoria is paying 25% of their income on rents or mortgages.

NAB senior economist Kieran Davies, in a recent note, warned that the newly created mortgage debt over the last several decades is mostly carried by older people.

“Gearing has increased sharply among older Australians, broadly reflecting the changing pattern of homeownership,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of Australia said interest rate cuts were going to have little effect in boosting house prices.

“A decline in interest rates was unlikely to encourage an unwelcome material pick-up in borrowing by households that would add to medium-term risks in the economy,” it said.

With Australians saddled up with the most debt ever – many are soon going to discover that an era of cheap money will be the financial death of them as the housing market implodes.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2Z1yiX5 Tyler Durden

Move Over, Millennials: GEN X Is The Generation In The Most Financial Trouble

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

Everyone picks on Millennials these days but a new study by Lending Tree shows that out of all the generations, Gen X is the one dealing with the deepest financial problems.

First, some definitions.

  • Gen Z or Centennials: Born 1996 – current day

  • Millennials: Born 1977 – 1995.

  • Gen X: Born 1965 – 1976.

  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1964.

  • The Silent Generation: Born 1945 or before

We all know that two major financial mistakes are getting into debt and failing to have an emergency fund. A recent study looked into the debt levels of each generation.

The study

Lending Tree, an online lending marketplace, did a study on the 3-year changes in each generation’s debt.

As each generation moves into different stages of their personal and economic lives, the amounts and types of debt they carry shifts, too. We compared the debts of members of the four adult generations — millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers and silents — between March 2016 and March 2019 to see what’s changed.

Specifically, we calculated the changes in the average balance of each major debt category — personal loans, credit cards, auto loans, student loans and mortgages — and the change in the percentage of each generation that carries each type of debt. (source)

Here were the key findings:

  • Millennials saw the greatest spike in overall debt. Their total balances rose by an average of $16,714 — almost 29% — between 2016 and 2019.

  • Gen Xers now have the highest average debt burden of any generation. They increased their average debt burdens by about 10%, or $11,898, between 2016 and 2019, thanks to steady dollar increases across all debt categories.

  • Older generations — boomers and silents — are winding down their debt, thanks to decreases in average mortgage balances. However, they’ve increased their average debt across all other categories.

  • Boomers decreased their debt burdens by 7%, or $10,424. Members of the silent generation dropped their overall debt by $9,486, or 8%. (source)

But what about Gen X? Why are they in so much trouble?

Gen X has financial problems in many ways.

Marketwatch did an analysis on that the ways that Gen X is financially wrecked and it’s not pretty. This is my generation so I was especially interested in their analysis.

They’ve got the most credit card debt of anyone – yet still spend more than anyone on non-essentials…

Despite their sky high credit card debt, Gen X spends big on non-essentials, according to data released in 2018 from finance site Bankrate.com. Indeed, “Gen Xers (ages 38-53) spend $3,473 annually on restaurant food, prepared beverages and lottery tickets, the most of any generation,” the report reveals.

They’re woefully under-saved for retirement… Median retirement savings for Gen X is only $35,000, the same median amount as millennials, despite Gen Xers being much closer to retirement,” according to a study of 3,000 Americans by Allianz Life. Having just $35,000 in retirement savings — especially when you’re a Gen Xer ages 37- 51 — is not even close to enough. Fidelity recommends that by age 40 you have three times your salary saved for retirement. Gen Xers may be so under-saved thanks to the competing financial demands of children… and caring for aging parents.

Their average debt now tops $150,000. Not only is their credit card debt high, the total amount of debt they have is. Those in the 35-44 age group have “the highest debt levels of any age bracket,” SmartAsset notes, citing Federal Reserve data. 

They’re more likely than other generations to say they can’t meet their financial goals. All of this debt and the lack of savings may explain why fewer than 1 in 3 members of Gen X says they think they can reach their long-term financial goals, according to a survey released in 2017 by FICO.  (source)

That’s not a pretty picture for people between the ages of 37 and 51.

Some of the reasons for this financial mess

Reading over the data, the thing that jumps out at me is that people of my generation are at the point where they’re taking care of everyone. Some still have kids at home, while others have adult kids who have returned home.  We are often lending a helping hand to our adult children who are in college or trying to get their feet on the ground. Some of this generation are taking care of aging parents.

It’s pretty tough to save for retirement when you have all these people depending on you.

Regarding the credit card debt, that one is kind of a mystery to me. While I have used credit cards to fund medical care I couldn’t fully pay for with my emergency fund, I rarely use them otherwise. It seems to me that it is essential to get this high-interest debt under control immediately. (If this is a problem for you, check out this article about paying down debt fast.

Spending on non-essentials seems to be a problem too. A lot of folks think that being on a budget means you can never have any fun, you can’t travel, you can’t go out to eat. So instead of creating a budget, they throw caution to the wind, spend while they have money, and complain when they don’t. I’d never say that you cannot travel, dine out, or do fun things. I do all of these and on a fairly tight budget. But I work it into my budget, I fund it with cash, and this comes after savings and all my other bills.

The biggest concern I see is that the money we Gen X-ers are paying into social security right now is going to fund the retirements of the Baby Boomers. The social security system is at a near-breaking point right now and most folks believe it may not even be there by the time we get to retirement age, much less for millennials. All that money that has been taking from our paychecks our entire working life…and none left when we need it. And if you think times are tight now, just wait until you’re too old to work and there’s no social security.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2ZbvK8A Tyler Durden

China’s Top Carmaker Guides For First Annual Sales Drop In 14 Years

SAIC Motor – China’s top carmaker and General Motors’ biggest Chinese partner – expects sales to fall annually for the first time in at least 14 years, according to Bloomberg.

The company is based in Shanghai and projects that for 2019, sales will be down about 7%. The company’s new target of 6.54 million sales is about 8% below the company’s public forecast for a slight increase in sales and would be the company’s first full year drop on record.

SAIC also has a venture with VW, where sales are expected to fall by about 3% to 2 million units. Deliveries at SAIC General Motors are projected to fall by about 8% to 1.2 million vehicles. These numbers would be the first full year drop for the VW venture and the second straight decline for the GM partnership.

A representative for SAIC said that the company plans to “sustain its marketshare”, even if the overall market slides this year.

SAIC reported a 17% drop in first half sales and said it saw declines across its various ventures. The company has offered buyers incentives of as much is 50% over the past few months to help clear out inventory. We reported on this fire sale earlier this month. 

We noted that passenger car vehicles in China finally showed their first tepid signs of recovery after a historic and record-breaking plunge in the country over the last two years, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association. 

China was able to – at least temporarily – shake itself from its rut as a result of offering significant discounts to clear inventory before new emissions rules took place on July 1.

Retail sales of passenger vehicles were up 4.9% to 1.8 million units in June from the year prior. This is the first increase since May 2018 for China, according to the CPCA data.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2XZv8BT Tyler Durden

How Long Is Jeffrey Epstein For This World?

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

First of all, I dearly wish I never had to read or write about Jeffrey Epstein again. But I can’t. And going over the reports about him, and watching the videos below (I’m sure there’s a thousand more), I started thinking I don’t see how he can have much longer to live. (Note as always that if you receive this through email, the videos may not show properly. If someone can explain why, and what to do about that, I’m game. Meanwhile, please go to the TAE site.)

There are three main threats to Jeffrey Epstein’s life (or four, if you include his victims).

No. 1 is his fellow inmates in the Manhattan MCC. He’ll be in very strict isolation, because inmates and pedophilia is a very explosive combination. So isolation, but that’s never 100%.

And Judge Berman yesterday ordered him in jail until his trial(s), instead of in his $77 million Manhattan mansion not far from that same prison, so he’ll be there a while; that trial could take a very long time to happen, even years. All the more chance for an inmate to make an easy $1000 by offing him.

The no. 2 threat is Epstein himself. Berman’s decision means he’s very unlikely to ever get out again. Chances of him being declared innocent are as close to zero as as anything Kelvin. So why would he want to continue to live? Perhaps his lawyers try and tell him he’s always got a shot, and there’s always a next court date, but he doesn’t strike me as fully delusional.

I could be wrong, sure, about much of all this, but I don’t think so.

The no. 3 threat is, obviously, the people he might “sing” about. And that’s an litany of the world’s who’s who. No doubt the FBI may already have their IDs and photos and what-not, but why chance it when you can take down the -potential- crown witness?

Now, if we may believe just 10% of what George Webb talks about in the last video in this article, everybody who’s anybody in government, secret services et al in the whole wide world should feel threatened right now. But those 2,000 pages from 2015 that Judge Berman ordered to be unsealed are not yet public, and you can bet your donkey that the cream of the global lawyer and secret service crop are going over them as you read this.

Will we ever know what Epstein really did? The odds are not in favor of that. But let’s try and have a look anyway. See if we can -to an extent- make up our minds based on that.

First up, an interview with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s main accusers. And Ghislaine Maxwell’s, don’t let’s forget that. She’s still walking around free, amazingly.

This is a Miami Herald video linked to Julie K. Brown’s series for the Miami Herald last fall on Epstein. It was posted to YouTube by the Miami Herald on Nov 30, 2018. It took another 8 months for him to be arrested. The 2,000 pages “supposed” to be unsealed soon stem from a case Roberts Giuffre brought in 2015.

Fast forward to the present, this is from RT on July 18, tackling the fact that Judge Berman refused to let Epstein out on bail. It’s not all the greatest stuff, but you DO get the feeling.

This I found interesting, Fox, also from July 18, because it targets Prince Andrew. Is MI6 going to be able to muffle away the obviously very strong and long-term connection between Epstein and Andrew? I’m thinking they’d probably have to get those 2,000 pages re-sealed. Or, you know, burned down. Nuked.

And then there’s George Webb. Now he is, I understand, someone who’s known as a conspiracy theorist, but then many people are in some circles, including myself, This video was posted on July 8 2019, 2 days after Epstein’s arrest. My thought while watching this is he may be wrong on some things, he may even be making a few points up, but when you’re that detailed on events that occurred over such a long time, you’re either on very powerful drugs or you’re not entirely wrong. Check for yourself.

To summarize my thoughts on this, and the reason I started writing this, I can’t see Epstein living much longer. There are too many people who would rather see him dead, including perhaps himself. And there are very few people who want him to get into lengthy talks with prosecutors who are actually looking for the truth.

Now of course we must wonder if any prosecutor wants that truth. Alex Acosta left his US government job because “Epstein is intelligence” was not enough to let him keep his job. And if we can believe some of the stories about the CIA, the State Dept and Mossad being linked to Epstein (and we got worse than that), it looks like he’s just got to go. Unless someone, or some party involved, has a reason to protect him against all odds. If only to handicap some other people.

After this piece I really hope I never have to write about this topic again. My hopes of that are not overly high, but I do have to say I have a very hard time thinking about child -sex- abuse. I also think we must think much harder about why it is that we pick predators to lead our societies. Because this hardly ever fails, doesn’t it? A bunch of sexual deviants rise to the top everywhere.

Sexual predation appears to be some inevitable part of political power. Not everywhere and not all the time, but far too much for comfort.

Let’s hope enough of those predators are exposed through the Jeffrey Epstein case. But, you know, listening to George Webb, you think of the oil sheikhs and the girls being trafficked by Epstein and others, from the Balkans and dirt poor African countries, and you ask yourself, what are the odds of full exposure?

*  *  *

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via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2y3xTqZ Tyler Durden

Drone Startup Gets First-Ever Approval In Iowa To Spray Chemicals On Crops 

A tech startup in Iowa became the first legally authorized company to fly drones for aerial application of agrichemicals in the state of Iowa, reported Crop Life.

“Our drone technology had been ready for a few months; we just needed the regulatory landscape to get sorted out,” Rantizo CEO, Michael Ott explained. “Building the technology is the easy part,” he continued.

Record rainfall this spring has decimated the Midwest, including many parts of Iowa.

Rantizo, which developed an easy-to-use drone spraying platform, could soon hit the fields spraying fungicide over crops to ensure parasitic fungi does not spread in the unusual wet conditions.

“Rain prohibited farmers from getting their corn crops in within the timeline they are used to this year. When I last checked at the end of June, only 96% of corn crop had been planted whereas typically they’re at 100% by this time,” Ott said.

“This will undoubtedly affect yields,” he continued, citing that the USDA recently lowered the national average corn yield projection to 166 bushels per acre.

A Rantizo representative told The Gazette in April that the drones will replace traditional sprayer vehicles in the future because the technology is more precise and cheaper to use.

“Our drone technology offers new improvements to agricultural crop applications such as increased field access, reduced headcount and ability to spot apply,” Ott stated.

“In other words, we can get in the fields to treat pests faster, with less people and in more effective ways that require less chemicals.”

Ott told The Gazette that Rantizo faced several challenges with the state of Iowa to get certified for flight. He said the company first needed to get their part 107 and Part 137 certifications from the FAA, which included section 44807 waivers in operating a drone over farmland.

The startup sorted out all regulatory hurdles and was cleared for flight in May. The final license for pesticide application from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) was recently granted.

“As the first company in the state to request this for drone operation there was inherently a learning curve involved, but we are thankful to IDALS for working with us on this and ultimately allowing us to pave a new path necessary for improved agricultural practices. Next we will work with other states to achieve the same,” Craig Perry, Rantizo’s Director of Operations explained.

Farmers across Iowa have been plagued with record rainfall that delayed many from planing earlier in the season. Wet weather also brings unwanted fungi to farmlands that could significantly reduce yields. Ott suggested that the drones will first spray fungicide on crops in the coming weeks.

“The last thing corn growers need is to lose additional yield to pests and disease,” Ott stated.

“Current solutions offer a suboptimal outcome at best. They require growers to spray their entire field. This gives options which are not cost effective or ineffective altogether, so many take the chance and don’t spray anything at all.”

Ott added, “Fungicide applications are most effective within 72 hours of disease infection. This means if a corn crop is infected, the farmer is left to detect the infection and spray the field (oftentimes by a 3rd party custom applicator) within 72 hours. Imagine this demand now across an entire state.”

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2Yf2ukb Tyler Durden

DARPA To Put Nuclear, Biological, And Chemical Detectors In Public Venues

via Mass PrivateI blog,

Can you imagine living in a country that puts surveillance devices in every city and public venue?

What would be the first country that comes to mind? China or the United Kingdom, right?

What if I told you that the United States has joined their ranks?

Recent news stories revealed that the United States is installing multiple types of surveillance devices in cities and public venues.

A recent news release by the Defense Department’s, Defense Advanced Research Projects Association (DARPA) and Homeland Security reveal that they are installing nuclear, biological and chemical sensors everywhere.

The program called,“PReemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements” (PREPARE) “addresses four major threat areas: influenza infection, opioid overdose, organophosphate poisoning, and exposure to gamma irradiation.”

The Marvel Universe will be happy to know that our government apparently only wants one Incredible Hulk.

DARPA’s news release, also revealed that DHS and law enforcement used handheld and fixed nuclear, biological and chemical detectors on INDY 500 race car fans.

“As some 300,000 cheering race fans packed the stands at this year’s Indianapolis 500, behind the scenes an advanced network of sensors kept constant vigilance, providing security officials real-time awareness of any potential weapon-of-mass-destruction/terror (WMD/WMT) threat.”

Did you catch that? DHS and the Metropolitan Police Department used handheld sensors to spy on race car fans in real-time.

“Integrating our fixed and handheld SIGMA radiation detectors, which are now being deployed operationally, with ChemSIGMA sensors and DHS’s bio sensors on the SIGMA+ network demonstrated the networking of sensors for simultaneous, wide-area monitoring of multiple threats,” Wrobel said. “We’d like to thank the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for their support in executing this demonstration. We look forward to working with them and other local, state and federal partners on future pilot activities to further refine the system with the goal of transitioning the capability to DoD and DHS users.”

The Feds have been spying on race car drivers for at least five years,

“The Mobile Deployment Detection Program, or MDDP, has been supporting the Indy 500 for five years to augment the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s radiation and nuclear detection capabilities.” (To learn more about DHS’s MDDP click here.)

Feds plan to put DARPA sensors in cities and public venues across the country.

“Data collected and lessons learned from the tech demo unit in Indy will be joined with data collected from around the country to support the design, development, and future deployment of the BD21 system to safeguard our nation against biothreats,” said Assistant Secretary, James McDonnell.

If you combine DARPA’s detectors with TSA-PreCheck in sports stadiums and music festivalsHEXWAVE detectors, public transit full-body scanners, police Z-Backscatter vans, police Knightscope robots, Police IMSI detectors (Sting Rays), police Bluetooth detectors, police license plate readers, police digital watch networks (Ring doorbells), US Marine Corps Smart City surveillance, police Opportunity Zones, police surveillance drones, etc., the number of devices law enforcement uses to spy on the public is growing and that should scare everyone.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2xU2NCm Tyler Durden

Need A Digital Rocket Launcher? Millennials Addicted To Video Games Spend Big Bucks

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized last year that millennials who play excessive amounts of video games could have a mental health condition. The disorder happens when gaming interferes with people’s daily lives.

A new Wall Street Journal report builds on video game addiction with youngsters and tells a story where these children are taking their parents credit cards and racking up some serious bills on in-game spending.

The mindset of a millennial addicted to video games is: steal their parents’ credit cards to buy digital goods, such as upgraded guns and new avatars. These in-game spending impulses are dubbed microtransactions, have become a very profitable business model for the gaming industry. But, at the same time, ruining the lives of many youngsters and causing financial stress on their families.

In-game spending has become so successful in the last five years that 2018 sales exceeded $93 billion, up from approximately $41 billion five years ago, according to Nielsen’s SuperData game research group.

Nathan Dungan, founder and president of financial-education firm Share Save Spend, told The Journal that “the danger with these purchases is that money turns magical. Children’s brains can’t process these virtual transactions because it’s not tangible to them.”

The Journal interviewed Ms. O’Connell, who one day noticed her son, Steven Flaxman, charged $1,500 for Xbox in-game purchases.

Steven told his mother that since the transactions were in digital coins, not dollars, he didn’t realize that his mother’s card would be charged.

“At first I was super angry with him. I was like, ‘How could you not understand this?’ But the coins look so fake and playful that you don’t realize it’s coming out of someone’s bank account. He didn’t get it. I took most of the blame myself because I didn’t notice it for so long,” she said.

O’Connell was shocked, and in disbelief that her son managed to spend all that money on digital guns. She contacted Microsoft who refunded her 90 days’ worth of charges, about $450, has since removed her card from the Xbox account.

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Journal that the Xbox gaming system has family settings that allow parents to regulate purchases.

Steven said it “feels a little weird” to spend his mother’s money on digital things but that buying cool weapons gives him a conversation piece when talking to his friends and improves his kill ratio.

Steven, like so many other millennials, are suffering from a gaming disorder, one where the WHO says is a “pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” in which people lose control and are overpowered by the game. In Steven’s case, it was his impulse buys of digital weapons that led him to make unauthorized transactions on his mother’s credit card that caused her to have financial stress.

In-game spending is gaining attention from lawmakers, regulators, and plaintiff’s attorneys. As part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Amazon in 2017 agreed to refund $70 million to customers who were charged for unauthorized in-app purchases made by a minor.

Last month, lawyers filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against “Fortnite” creator of Epic Games Inc. on behalf of an anonymous minor and his mother. Lawyers claim the game doesn’t include the proper security precautions that would give parents more oversight into in-game purchases and spending history.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) recently proposed legislation to prevent tech firms from selling items in video games that give players an edge. He compared the practice to gambling.

Young people are becoming increasingly addicted to video games, and in some instances, as we’ve reported before, it has triggered mental health issues that affect all aspects of someone’s life.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2O808Qj Tyler Durden