Sen. Rand Paul is planning to force a vote on a resolution he introduced to withdraw all US troops from Syria, as US bases in the country have come under frequent attack since mid-October, Responsible Statecraft reported on Wednesday.
Paul introduced the resolution on November 15, and it would order the removal of the approximately 900 US troops stationed in Syria within 30 days unless President Biden receives authorization for war from Congress.
Sources told RS that the vote could happen as early as next week. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced a similar resolution in the House earlier this year, which failed in a vote of 103-321.
According to the Pentagon, there have been at least 73 attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria, including over 30 in Syria. The attacks started on October 17 in response to President Biden’s support for Israel’s onslaught in Gaza.
The US has conducted several rounds of airstrikes in response, which have killed at least 15 people, according to US officials speaking to The New York Times. Strikes launched in Iraq targeted Kataib Hezbollah, a leading Iraqi Shia militia that’s aligned with Iran.
There has been a lull in attacks since the Israel-Hamas truce went into effect on Friday, but Kataib Hezbollah and other Shia militias have signaled the attacks will resume once the pause in Gaza is over.
The Iraqi government has warned without a durable ceasefire in Gaza, the war risks escalating into a major regional conflict. The US occupation of eastern Syria, which is strongly opposed by Damascus, has always been a possible trip wire for a broader war in the region due to Russia and Iran’s presence in the country.
“senior US military officials say that only luck has spared the United States from more serious casualties.”@dandcaldwell and I have been writing about this for a long time. A shame this article doesn’t even ask why we have troops in Iraq and Syria. https://t.co/DoUMPdpFhB
On paper, the US is in the country to help fight ISIS remnants, but the occupation is part of the economic campaign against Syria, which also includes crippling sanctions, and is seen by hawks in Washington as a hedge against Iran.
US Suicides Hit Record High In 2022, Life Expectancy Ticks Up
The number of suicides in the United States hit a record high in 2022 according to new provisional data from the federal government.
An estimated 44,449 people committed suicide in 2022, which is 3% higher than the 48,183 people who did so in 2021 – the previous high, according to a Wednesday report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The suicide rate in 2022 was 14.3 deaths per 100,000 people vs. 14.1 per 100,000 in 2021, marking the highest rate since 1941.
The numbers will likely be higher in the final report due to lagging suicide reports, according to the authors.
“Reporting of suicides in particular can be delayed due to investigations regarding the cause and circumstances surrounding the death.”
By sex, the suicide rate for males were 1% higher in 2022 than in 2021 at 23.1 per 100,000 vs. 22.7. For women the rate was 4% higher vs. 2021.
By age, the suicide rate declined for those aged 34 and under, and increased for those 35 and older. The rate for men aged 75 and older was the highest last year at nearly 44 per 100,000 people. While women have suicidal thoughts more frequently, men are four times as likely to actually do so.
This should be the number one news story every day. Why are suicides hitting an all-time high in America?
By race, Native Americans had the highest rate at 26.7 per 100,000 – though the rate was 5% lower in 2022 vs. 2021 and this was the only group to experience a decline in rates, ABC News reports. All other races had a 1-3% increase in suicide rates.
Life Expectancy Rebounding
On the bright side, the same report reveals that life expectancy has increased 1.1 years from 2021, a slight rebound from the depths of covid, but still not back to pre-covid levels.
Life expectancy at birth represents the average number of years an infant would live. The improvement was primarily driven by a drop in Covid deaths, but decreases in heart disease and cancer mortality also helped.
There’s still more ground to recover to get back to pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, average life expectancy was 78.8 years. In the two years following the onset of the pandemic, life expectancy had the biggest back-to-back decline in a century.
Life expectancy rose for all races in 2022. Asian and Hispanic people can both expect to live at least 80 years — longer than White, Black and American Indian and Alaska Native people. –Bloomberg
The biggest gains by race were seen in the Native American and Hispanic populations.
“In 2022, the number of deaths from COVID-19 was not insubstantial,” Elizabeth Arias, a researcher with the NCHS who was the lead author of the report, told CNN (via the Epoch Times) “Holding everything else constant, we’d need to see another large decline in COVID mortality for life expectancy to increase.”
“We only made up close to half of the loss [in life expectancy], and for some groups, it’s even less,” Arias continued. “We would need the same pattern that we observed in 2022 again in 2023 and then, perhaps, the following year to completely make up the loss.”
By John Cheng, Bloomberg Markets Live reporter and strategist
China’s battered banking stocks will likely decline further as they are summoned by local authorities to support the country’s struggling property developers, analysts say.
Latest policy moves to boost lending to developers — including via the use of unsecured loans — have only strengthened the conviction that lenders’ shares may weaken further. Even record-low valuations have not been enough to lure investors, with the CSI 300 Banks Index slumping to a one-year low amid worries over shrinking margins.
“Unfortunately, we think banks may have to do more national service this time to stabilize the growth expectations,” said Xiadong Bao, a fund manager at Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management in Paris. “We think those headwinds may persist given the challenging macro condition and weak consumer sentiment. It is difficult to have a positive view before the credit cycle comes back.”
China’s banks face a conundrum of balancing support for the property sector and the economy with the need to manage their already depressed earnings. The sector’s net interest margins slumped to a record low of 1.73% as of September, below the 1.8% threshold seen as necessary to maintain reasonable profitability.
In a readout last week, China’s parliament asked lenders to step up funding for developers to reduce the risk of additional defaults and ensure completion of housing projects, adding that the financial sector’s profits have room to fall as a share of the economy. Lenders are also being directed to refinance loans to local governments at lower rates.
Still, banks could circumvent guidance to provide unsecured loans to developers “due to credit risk concerns,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts including Katherine Lei wrote in a note.
While banks may stay selective on new property loans, “headwinds from rising system leverage, prolonged property stress, and a shifting policy environment are weighing on banks’ growth and profitability,” Fitch Ratings Inc. analysts including Lan Wang wrote in a note, adding that the impact on larger state banks will be more modest.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued its latest state of the global climate report as part of the kickoff for the opening in Dubai of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change. Let’s just say that according to the WMO, 2023 was really hot compared to the average global temperatures in the late 19th century. How hot?
The global mean near-surface temperature in 2023 (to October) was around 1.40 ± 0.12 °C above the 1850–1900 average. Based on the data to October, it is virtually certain that 2023 will be the warmest year in the 174-year observational record, surpassing the previous joint warmest years, 2016 at 1.29 ± 0.12 °C above the 1850–1900 average and 2020 at 1.27±0.13 °C. The past nine years, 2015–2023, will be the nine warmest years on record.
Correlatively, the WMO reports that the accumulation in the atmosphere of globe-warming greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—also reached record levels this year. For example, carbon dioxide released chiefly through the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas rose in May from the atmospheric preindustrial level of about 280 to 424 parts per million—a more than 50 percent increase. As temperatures rise, the extent of sea icedeclines, landglaciers and ice sheets lose mass, and sea levels rise.
The WMO report lists several extreme weather disasters from the current year, including floods, droughts, cyclones, and wildfires. And while certainly people are impacted by them, it is worth noting that the long-term trend is toward ever fewer deaths from natural disasters. This is largely because a wealthier world has been able to adapt to the impacts caused by natural hazards.
A 2023 preprint by European researchers analyzing global flood mortalities between 1975 and 2022 confirms this trend by finding that floods have become less deadly. “Despite population growth and increasing flood hazards, the average number of fatalities per event has declined over time,” they report. In other words, people are, in general, adapting faster to whatever climate change is occurring than it can cause them harm.
Under the terms of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, signatories are supposed to undertake collective efforts to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”
United Emirates’ Sultan Al Jaber, who is the president-designate of COP28, said he’s aiming for an “unprecedented outcome” at the conference which would keep alive the hope of achieving the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris agreement.
A new analysis, however, calculates that in order to have a 50 percent chance of holding global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, global greenhouse gas emissions would have to be cut by 43 percent below their 2019 levels by 2030. Given current greenhouse gas emissions and concomitant global temperature trends, it seems unlikely that activists’ demands to “keep 1.5 alive” will be met.
Students at Penn Chavurah wanted to show Israelism, which has drawn significant controversy this year, but the school cited “a potential negative response on campus” and used the word “vitriol,” according to one of the film’s producers and a student.
The university had offered to allow students to screen it in February, said senior Jack Starobin, 21, a board member and student organizer for Penn Chavurah ….
Penn said in a statement that “the safety and well-being of the Penn community is our top priority” and that “after discussions with Penn Public Safety and University administration,” the decision was made last week to postpone the screening.
“We are actively working to find a date in February when the film can be viewed and discussed safely and constructively,” the university said….
The documentary, which debuted at a film festival in February, depicts the stories of “two young American Jews raised to unconditionally love Israel” until they travel to Israel and the West Bank and “witness the brutal way Israel treats Palestinians,” according to the film’s website. The film was made by two Jewish filmmakers who grew up in circumstances similar to the protagonists in their film.
The film has drawn controversy for its portrayal of Israel, and Abraham H. Foxman, former national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who is featured in the film and is a Holocaust survivor, said on X, formerly Twitter, that he regretted participating, calling it “an anti-Israel and anti-American Jewish community film.”
The film has won several prizes since its debut, including an audience award at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and best documentary at the Arizona International Film Festival….
Penn did not respond to questions about the potential Myerson Hall viewing….
The Penn chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Penn’s refusal to grant the student group permission to reserve a room to screen the film on campus this semester is “one more expression of our university leadership’s failure to uphold the principles of academic freedom —principles enshrined in Penn’s policies and essential to the mission of a university.
“Academic freedom entails the freedom of students to learn, and to encounter and critically examine multiple interpretations of the world… In denying students these freedoms, the university administration violates its own policies and endangers the principles of academic freedom that are essential to the research and teaching mission of a university.” …
The Florida Constitution’s crime victims provision (known as Marsy’s Law) provides, in relevant part, that “every [crime] victim” has
The right to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family, or which could disclose confidential or privileged information of the victim.
Does this include the right to prevent the disclosure of the victim’s name? No, said the Florida Supreme Court today in City of Tallahassee v. Florida Police Benevolent Ass’n, Inc. The case involved police officers who “used lethal force in detaining a suspect,” and who claimed they were crime victims who were acting in self-defense; but the court’s rationale extends to all crime victims. From Justice John Couriel’s opinion for the court:
[We hold that] Marsy’s Law guarantees to no victim—police officer or otherwise—the categorical right to withhold his or her name from disclosure…. Marsy’s Law speaks only to the right of victims to “prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass” them or their families. One’s name, standing alone, is not that kind of information or record; it communicates nothing about where the individual can be found and bothered.
In other provisions, our Constitution expressly addresses the disclosure of a person’s identity. See art. X, § 25(b), Fla. Const. (“In providing such access [to certain medical records], the identity of patients involved in the incidents shall not be disclosed ….”) (emphasis added); art. X, § 29(d)(4), Fla. Const. (“All records containing the identity of qualifying patients shall be confidential and kept from public disclosure ….”) (emphasis added). We are not persuaded that Florida voters ratified an implicit guarantee that, elsewhere in the same constitution, is expressly stated.
Similarly, when our statutes reflect a legislative bargain to conceal the identities of persons, they do so expressly. We see this in section 119.071, Florida Statutes (2018), the very legislation that discusses, among other things, confidentiality, public records, and crime victims. [Examples omitted. -EV] …
Protecting crime victims from being located—as opposed to identified—is a meaningful distinction, for exposure of a crime victim’s location creates a threat of physical danger that exposure of his or her name alone does not generally pose….
That the plain language of section 16(b)(5) does not explicitly protect a victim’s name from disclosure stands to reason. For if it did, it would raise serious doubt about how to square a victim’s rights under Marsy’s Law and a defendant’s right to “confront at trial adverse witnesses.” … [A] defendant’s knowledge of the identity of an adverse witness is often critical to the force and integrity of a cross-examination, as a witness’s identity may be germane to the determination of bias or credibility….
He has accused the company of “unlawfully misrepresenting the effectiveness of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine and attempting to censor public discussion of the product,” according to a press release.
“Pfizer engaged in false, deceptive, and misleading acts and practices by making unsupported claims regarding the company’s COVID-19 vaccine in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act,” the release continues
Much of Paxton’s 54-page-complaint focuses on Pfizer’s December 20, 2020 claim that its vaccine was “95% effective.”
However, according to the complaint, “more Americans died in 2021, with Pfizer’s vaccine available, than in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.” He also cites government reports concluding that in some places, deaths among vaccinated people outpaced those among the unvaccinated, even on a percentage basis.
Pfizer’s claim of 95% efficacy rested on deceptive framing of clinical trial observations, says the complaint:
That number was only ever legitimate in a solitary, highly- technical, and artificial way—it represented a calculation of the so-called “relative risk reduction” for vaccinated individuals in Pfizer’s then-unfinished pivotal clinical trial.
But FDA publications indicate “relative risk reduction” is a misleading statistic that “unduly influence[s]” consumer choice.
Indeed, per FDA: “when information is presented in a relative risk format, the risk reduction seems large and treatments are viewed more favorably than when the same information is presented” using more accurate metrics.
The critical 95% claim came at a point when Pfizer only had an average of two months data on participants, says Paxton.
Specifically, the Texas AG says that of the 17,000 who received a placebo, only 162 contracted the illness, which makes for a poor baseline from which to judge the efficacy of the so-called vaccine.
Had Pfizer used the FDA’s preferred metric — absolute risk reduction — it would have instead informed the public that “the vaccine was merely 0.85% effective,” writes Paxton.
“Moreover, according to Pfizer’s own data, preventing one COVID-19 case required vaccinating 119.”
Paxton also accuses Pfizer of creating a false impression about the vaccine’s duration of protection without having any basis. Worse, the complaint accuses Pfizer of “withhold[ing] highly relevant data and information from the consuming public showing that efficacy waned.” Pfizer is also alleged to have made baseless claims and insinuations about the vaccine’s supposed ability to thwart transmission and to be helpful against variants.
The complaint also says Pfizer “took overt action to intimidate and silence persons who spread factual information about vaccine efficacy,” a censorship drive that allowed the company to “secure commitments to purchase at least 415 million and 2.7 billion doses from the U.S. and foreign governments respectively.” Pfizer’s actions included pressuring social media platforms to silence influential doubters.
It’s with no small amount of hesitation that we’ve referred to Pfizer’s shot as a “vaccine.” After all, in practice, it behaved nothing like how that term was understood before the pandemic. For example, prior to Covid-19, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defined “vaccination” as “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.”
After the so-called Covid-19 vaccines proved to produce something far short of reliable immunity, the CDC moved the goalpoststo benefit pharmaceutical companies and their fellow travelers in the public health bureaucracy. As Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie highlighted, in September 2021, CDCposted new language defining vaccination as “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce protection from a specific disease”:
An FBI employee’s vehicle was carjacked near Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 29, according to officials, marking the latest incident to take place in the nation’s capital as it continues to battle soaring crime.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, officers responded to the armed carjacking incident in the 100 block of 12th Street NE at about 3:45 p.m.
Police confirmed the victim was a federal agent who told officials that two suspects took their vehicle.
The stolen vehicle was recovered shortly after the incident, at about 4:10 p.m. in the 1000 block of 15th St SE, less than a mile from where the car was taken, officials said.
“At this time, we can confirm that an FBI employee was carjacked on the afternoon of November 29,” an FBI spokesperson said in an emailed statement to NBC Washington.
“The vehicle was recovered, and the FBI Washington Field Office and the Metropolitan Police Department’s Carjacking Task Force are investigating,” the spokesperson added.
No further information has been released regarding the two suspects and officials did not provide further details regarding the lead-up to and aftermath of the carjacking.
The incident comes as violent crime rates have surged across Washington in the past year, according to police data, up 40 percent year-on-year, with homicides up 23 percent, robberies up 69 percent, and arson up 125 percent.
Assaults with a dangerous weapon are also up 3 percent in 2023 compared to last year, according to the data, while motor thefts have surged 93 percent, meaning they have nearly doubled within the past year.
So far in 2023, there have also been 906 carjackings, compared to 439 last year, according to separate police data, 77 percent of which involved victims being held at gunpoint.
The significant rise in carjackings and auto thefts has prompted police, via an initiative launched by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government, to hand out auto-tracking devices.
In October, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) revealed he was also the victim of a carjacking near the Capitol, which he said was carried out by three armed assailants who stole his car.
The lawmaker was not injured during the incident, which took place while he was attempting to park his vehicle outside of his Washington apartment in Navy Yard.
The 68-year-old Texas Democrat’s car was later recovered about two miles away in the Anacostia neighborhood.
Prior to that incident, Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), another Democrat, was attacked in an elevator at her Washington apartment building in February.
During that incident, a homeless man later identified as Kendrick Hamlin approached the lawmaker, assaulted her, and then fled when she defended herself, according to police.
Senate Staffer ‘Brutally Attacked’
Roughly a month after that incident, a staffer for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was “brutally attacked in broad daylight” less than 1.5 miles from the U.S. Capitol.
Police said Phillip Todd—a staffer for Mr. Paul on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee—was stabbed “multiple times” by suspect Glynn Neal, 42, of Southeast Washington. Mr. Neal was subsequently arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill using a knife.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Secret Service confirmed its agents tasked with protecting President Joe Biden’s granddaughter, Naomi Biden, opened fire after three people attempted to break into an unmarked Secret Service vehicle in the capital.
No one was struck by the gunfire, the Secret Service said in a statement. The three people were seen fleeing in a red car, and the Secret Service said it put out a regional bulletin to Metropolitan Police to be on the lookout for it.
Amid growing criticism of the surge in crime across Washington, Ms. Bowser, a Democrat, has announced legislation aimed at addressing “public safety challenges” and “giving law enforcement more tools to hold criminals accountable and keep neighborhoods safe.”
Introduced in October, the “Addressing Crime Trends Now Act” (ACT Now), will, among other things reinstate a law preventing criminals from wearing a mask for the purpose of conducting a criminal act or intimidating, create criminal penalties for organized retail theft, limit loitering, and establish “temporary drug-free zones” across the city.
Money Market Funds See Massive Inflows As Fed’s Bank Bailout Fund Holds At Record High
Money-market funds saw a massive $102BN inflow last week (the largest since the middle of the SVB crisis in March). The fifth straight week of inflows pushed total MM fund assets to a new record high of $5.84 TN…
In a breakdown for the week to Nov. 29, government funds – which invest primarily in securities like Treasury bills, repurchase agreements and agency debt – saw assets rise to $4.77TN, a $71.5BN increase.
Prime funds, which tend to invest in higher-risk assets such as commercial paper, meanwhile, saw assets climb to $940BN, a $2.19BN increase.
With the vast bulk of that being into institutional funds (+$71BN), but the unbroken trend of flows into retail funds also continued…
The resurgence in money-market fund inflows is diverging from bank deposits (which are gently rising on a seasonally-adjusted basis)…
Meanwhile, despite a small uptick into month-end, November saw a massive exodus of funds from The Fed’s reverse repo facility, now at its lowest since July 2021…
Demand for the facility has been fading this year as the Treasury ramped up fresh bill issuance, offering an alternative for short-term investors.
While reserve scarcity is not a serious worry yet, it;s coming if this pace continues.
After stalling last week, The Fed’s balance sheet contracted by $14.7BN last week (to its lowest since April 2021)…
QT also reaccelerated last week, with Securities Held declining by $12.3BN…
Usage of The Fed’s emergency funding facility for the banks remained at a record high of $114BN…