This Hidden Voting Bloc Could Swing The 2024 Election

This Hidden Voting Bloc Could Swing The 2024 Election

Authored by Janice Hisle via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Tina DeMedeiros, 53, of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, is a typical “Trump-or-bust” voter.

After casting her first presidential election ballot for Democrat Bill Clinton in her early 20s, Ms. DeMedeiros had been disconnected from anything related to politics.

Donald Trump became a notable exception.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)

Ms. DeMedeiros voted for him in 2016 and again in 2020. But she didn’t cast a ballot in 2018, nor in 2022; she said that most of the people she knows don’t vote regularly, either.

I don’t really like politicians. But I like Donald Trump,” she told The Epoch Times. “I don’t look at him like a politician.”

Pollster Rich Baris calls these people Trump-or-bust voters—less-likely voters who tend to cast ballots only when they know the name “Donald J. Trump” will appear.

They now form a critical constituency that other analysts are beginning to acknowledge.

Republicans cannot win without them,” Mr. Baris told The Epoch Times. “The math just isn’t there if they do not show up.”

Pro-Trump voters include many who had never voted before or rarely voted in the past, Mr. Baris said.

Many pollsters might label these people “unlikely” or “less-likely” voters and may discount their responses or weed them out, based on the assumption that they won’t cast ballots.

But Mr. Baris said that in the case of President Trump’s voters, that premise is flawed. He sees a pattern: These previously unmotivated, sporadic voters now seem to behave rather predictably.

Supporters listen to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Geneva, Ohio, on Oct. 27, 2016. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The Trump-or-Bust phenomenon is evident among interviewees whom Mr. Baris’s Big Data Poll (BDP) surveyed this fall. Mr. Baris produced one of the few polls that correctly showed that then-candidate Donald Trump was poised to win in 2016. BDP has conducted polling in the past for The Epoch Times.

For example, BDP’s map shows a 38-year-old man from rural Shelby County, Ohio. He described himself as unmarried, childless, not religious, and working full-time for an annual salary of at least $50,000.

This man, Mr. Baris says, is a typical Trump-or-bust voter, like Ms. DeMedeiros.

She started following Donald Trump when she was 15. That’s when she made her first trip to New York and visited Trump Tower, piquing her curiosity about the real estate tycoon’s success. She started watching Mr. Trump on TV talk shows, such as Oprah Winfrey; she became a fan of his reality TV series “The Apprentice.”

Yet Ms. DeMedeiros was so politically unaware that she was stunned to learn Mr. Trump was seeking the presidency.

He declared his candidacy in June 2015, but she knew nothing about it until her husband mentioned Mr. Trump was going to debate Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in September 2016. “I said, ‘Oh my God, he’s running for president?’” she recalled.

By then, Ms. Clinton had already declared that Donald Trump’s supporters could be lumped into “a basket of deplorables.” She said these people were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.”

Her comment ignited a backlash. And when Ms. DeMedeiros heard about it, she predicted, “He’s going to win.”

“Everyone thought I was crazy,” she said.

But she saw signs that waves of support were building for Mr. Trump, partly out of resentment toward Ms. Clinton. “People had signs out in front of their houses saying, ‘A Deplorable Lives Here,’” Ms. DeMedeiros said.

Intrigued, she started learning about the future president’s proposed policies; to her, they seemed to be based on “common sense.” She supports his tough-on-illegal immigration policies, his defense of Constitutional rights, and his plans to cut government bureaucracy.

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stand in line for a rally in Hershey, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

She said President Trump has her support. Although she conceded that he may engage in too much name-calling, she said, “I like it when he goes after people who come after him.”

She said she’s used to that brash personality as a New Englander: “I like people who have fire inside of them.”

And I think he’s done a lot for this country,” she said. “If I had his money, I don’t know that I’d keep going on while being under constant attack.

Ms. DeMedeiros said that some wealthy Democrats in Cape Cod who were once anti-Trump now instead bad-mouth President Joe Biden’s economic policies. They want President Trump back in office, she said. To them, she says, “Welcome aboard!’”

Although Ms. DeMedeiros said she senses that President Trump is headed for a 2024 election win, she also said she remains concerned that Democrats will try to sabotage it.

Days after Ms. DeMedeiros expressed that worry to The Epoch Times, the left-leaning Colorado Supreme Court ruled President Trump ineligible for that state’s primary election ballot. The Colorado GOP has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

Making Politics Relevant

McKayla Rose, 36, of Dallas, exemplifies another category of President Trump’s supporters: Those who were once disinterested in politics but became uber-engaged because of him. (To avoid reprisals, the married mother of two asked The Epoch Times to use her online pseudonym for this article.)

Concern for her children motivated her to “start paying attention” to politics, she said. That happened after Ms. Rose learned that schools “were trying to teach kids about homosexuality and ’trans’ this, ’trans’ that,” she said, referring to transgenderism.

Ms. Rose started to see the vital role that the U.S. president plays in guiding the nation’s policies and setting the tone for trends in American society. That realization motivated her to delve deeper.

She began listening directly to President Trump’s speeches and became convinced that many mainstream media reports mischaracterized him.

Rich Baris, the “People’s Pundit” and director of Big Data Poll, speaks at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Naples, Fla., on Feb. 24, 2022. (Courtesy of Rich Baris)

So, for the first time in her life, Ms. Rose, who was then in her early 30s, voted—for President Trump in the 2020 election. She said she agrees with his contention that the election was rigged or stolen and that she intends to vote for him again in 2024.

But unlike the Trump-or-bust voters, Ms. Rose said she did cast a ballot during the 2022 midterm elections. She now considers herself an informed, active member of the electorate.

Jeff Bloodworth, a professor of U.S. political history at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, said Ms. Rose and the Trump-or-bust voters strike him as “a very typical kind of person who has been brought into the political system by Donald Trump.”

Although President Trump’s critics say the drama surrounding him is exhausting, it has captured the attention of citizens who used to find politics painfully dull and irrelevant to their lives. The former president seems to have a knack for reaching those people, showing them how politics matter, and inspiring them to get involved, Mr. Bloodworth told The Epoch Times.

“He makes politics kind of understandable. And, oddly, some people believe he’s more relatable, even though he’s a billionaire from New York,” he said. “Trump has found a way to make politics interesting to a wider swath of the electorate.”

Mr. Bloodworth said he thinks many pollsters still need to figure out how to ferret out and fully gauge President Trump’s supporters.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in front of a capacity crowd at a rally for his campaign in Rochester, N.Y., on April 10, 2016. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The Pennsylvania Picture

Recent poll numbers for both President Trump and President Biden fit Mr. Bloodworth’s observations about the political climate in Pennsylvania.

Polls show that President Biden, who hails from Pennsylvania, is in danger of losing the state if current trends hold.

Mr. Baris’s BDP shows President Trump 3.5 percentage points ahead of the incumbent in the Keystone State.

Asked to comment on BDP’s Pennsylvania findings, Mr. Bloodworth said, “I guess I was most surprised by the urban numbers, especially in Philadelphia.”

In 2020, then-candidate Joe Biden won Philadelphia County by about 63 percentage points. That support level has dropped by 16 percentage points, according to BDP.

The poll detected a similar decline among President Biden’s supporters in Pittsburgh, where he won by about 20 percentage points in 2020. Now his Pittsburgh lead has shrunk to about 4 points, BDP found.

These findings mesh with other polls showing that nonwhite people’s support of the current president has been dropping; some Democrat strategists have acknowledged that these polling numbers constitute warning signals about President Biden’s reelection bid.

Simply put, the numbers show that “Biden is vulnerable,” Mr. Bloodworth said. “And I think even Joe Biden understands that.”

However, some of the incumbent president’s allies are discounting the importance of polling at this stage of the game.

President Joe Biden talks about his proposed fiscal 2024 federal budget during an event at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia on March 9, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Democrats, Others Urge Caution

Asked to comment on the recent downward trends in President Biden’s poll numbers, Washington-based Democrat strategist Matt Angle told The Epoch Times last month: “Horse race polls a year out are not predictive, and treating them like they are is dumb on the part of individuals and irresponsible on the part of journalists.”

Similarly, Mr. Baris told The Epoch Times: “People should remain skeptical of polling, educate themselves about it.”

They also need to remember that polling “was never intended to identify margins with pinpoint accuracy.” Instead, polling is intended to identify trends and record voter sentiments at a given moment in time; they’re snapshots recording the present, not crystal balls glimpsing the future.

Most polls contain “sampling errors” that can skew results, typically plus or minus 3 to 4 percentage points. Thus, a lead within those margins is not a comfortable one. And so far, most Biden-Trump poll results fall within that margin of error.

Mr. Angle said President Biden’s poll rankings are probably suffering in the face of “virulent opposition” from President Trump’s “ideologues” in right-wing news media.

Many recent reports are critical of President Biden’s handling of the economy, immigration issues, and foreign affairs, including the Israel–Hamas War. In addition, President Biden faces an impeachment inquiry over millions of dollars that allegedly flowed from foreigners into his relatives’ bank accounts. He has denied wrongdoing.

President Biden’s supporters say the influence-peddling scandal is small potatoes compared with the 91 criminal indictments lodged against President Trump. The allegations stem from his challenge of the 2020 election results along with his handling of business records and government records.

The former president has repeatedly stated that he did nothing wrong. He says he is the target of an unprecedented political witch hunt designed to damage his candidacy and interfere with the 2024 election.

He also has repeatedly touted his polling performance as an indicator that the American people see the criminal cases as “political persecution” and that they appreciated the work he did in the White House.

President Donald Trump (R) and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 22, 2020. (Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images)

Assuming a Biden–Trump rematch, voters face a choice between two candidates who are both old, Mr. Angle said. President Trump is 77 and President Biden 81.

But of course, there are significant differences between the two men.

Mr. Angle said he considers President Trump “dangerously destructive,” dishonest, and a threat to American democracy.

President Trump and his supporters dismiss that characterization as a Democrat talking point. They retort that President Biden has stumbled over his words and his feet, signs that his age is affecting him and making him appear weak on the world stage. But President Trump, they say, remains quick-witted and seems resilient despite a demanding schedule of court appearances and campaign events.

Mr. Angle called President Biden “capable, accomplished, [and] patriotic,” even if he is “less than exciting.”

President Biden’s critics accuse him of failing to “put America first.” Under his watch, record-breaking numbers of illegal immigrants have flooded across the U.S.–Mexico border.

Read the rest here…

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 17:50

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Russia Pummels Ukraine’s 2nd Largest City With 50 Drones In ‘Retaliation’ For Attack On Belgorod

Russia Pummels Ukraine’s 2nd Largest City With 50 Drones In ‘Retaliation’ For Attack On Belgorod

“This crime will not go unpunished,” Russia’s Defense Ministry had announced Saturday in response to the massive Ukrainian cross-border attacks on Belgorod, which according to the revised death killed at least 24 people and wounded at least 108, including many children at a Christmas market.

Starting Saturday, Russia unleashed its promised ‘retaliation’ on Ukraine, hitting the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv – which lies just across the border from Belgorod city – with some 50 drones

The Kharkiv Palace hotel following the overnight Saturday attack. Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

Ukraine’s air force said that its anti-air defenses shot down 21 of those drones, but that central buildings were hit and damaged, including apartments, a central hotel, a school, and government buildings.

Regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said that 28 people were wounded in the attack on Kharkiv, which is the country’s second-largest city. There are reports that a British journalist was among the wounded at the Kharkiv Palace Hotel when it was struck.

According to a statement from Ukraine’s military:

The missile strikes, which came as Kharkiv prepared for new year celebrations, were followed by waves of drone attacks on housing blocks. On Sunday, the Ukrainian air force said it had destroyed 21 of 49 Iranian-made Shahed drones that Russia had used to target “the frontline of defense, as well as at civilian, military and infrastructure facilities in the frontline territories.”

A Russian military statement claimed the overnight assault only targeted military facilities, including what it called a hotel which housed “foreign mercenaries”. 

Kiev responded by calling Russia’s version of events “yet another delusional fantasy from the terrorist regime waging a genocidal war against Ukraine,” as cited in Euromaidan News.

The Kremlin has meanwhile demanded answers from the Czech government, citing that recovered ammunition and debris from the Belgorod strikes included Czech-made Vampire rockets and Olkha missiles fitted with cluster-munition warheads, according to Associated Press reporting.

It seems Russia may be sending a message suggesting that if Ukraine hits a Russian holiday market, it will hit a Ukrainian hotel just ahead of New Year’s celebrations…

Russia has throughout nearly two years of war warned that countries externally supplying weapons to Ukrainian forces would be treated as direct participants in the conflict if their weapons are found to be used against Russia. The US in particular has been the biggest supplier of heavy weaponry, followed by NATO and EU countries.

Moscow has all the while underscored the proxy war nature of the conflict and showdown with NATO, but so far a WW3-style escalation has been narrowly avoided, but this worst case scenario certainly looms large.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 17:15

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A Clue As To Why AI Is So Dumb

A Clue As To Why AI Is So Dumb

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Epoch Times,

The New York Times has dropped a major lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement. The paper claims that these companies have been scraping NY Times content to train ChatGPT and other features of artificial intelligence software. They cite real injury here: People are using AI tools for information rather than subscribing to The NY Times, and therefore The NY Times is losing advertiser revenue.

My first reaction is: That explains so much!

In particular, it shows why on any topic regarding politics, news, public health, climate change, or anything even mildly controversial, ChatGPT comes across so stupidly conventional and ignorant of deeper literature. It is like reading The New York Times precisely because the AI engine is using The New York Times as its trainer! That truly does account for the core of the problem.

True, there are thousands of fun things you can do with AI. You can debug software. It can compose nice music and paint pretty pictures. It can slice and dice videos with nice results for TikTok. It can write an instant poem or lyrics of anything. It can instantly bang out an article on any topic. In every case, the results are delightful and very impressive.

And yet in every case, the results are obviously generated by a machine. Once you learn to recognize the telltale signs, it is unmistakable. And then the whole experience becomes boring and unimpressive.

People ask me if I as a writer felt threatened by this machine learning and instant prose generator.

For me, it is quite the opposite. Good writing and good thought comes from a spark that only the human mind can generate. No matter how sophisticated AI gets, it can never reproduce this. In fact, I find it hilariously amusing how bad this software really is.

For example, just now, I asked AI to compose an essay of 350 words on AI and copyright in the style of Jeffrey Tucker. It generated some of the most mind-numbing blather I’ve read in years, saying almost nothing of any significance but saying it in clean English prose that has the feel of authenticity while being barren of any of the reality.

The final paragraph of the result: “Ultimately, the intersection of AI and copyright necessitates thoughtful reflection, interdisciplinary collaboration, and an adaptive legal framework. As technological progress propels us into uncharted terrain, striking the right chord between attributing human agency and embracing the transformative power of AI holds the key to a harmonious coexistence in the realm of digital creativity.”

Eye roll! If I read that anywhere, my spidey sense would be immediately triggered that the author is just making stuff up. More precisely, it is not making stuff up but merely regurgitating known forms of conventional prose in a way that mimics thought but without the slightest spark of any creativity, much less depth of meaning. In other words, AI writes like a highly precocious 5-year-old, capable of astonishing feats of imitation but utterly incapable of actual intelligence. It’s like a sophisticated parrot: seeming to speak English but not really doing so. It’s great for parties but not much else.

Consider the copyright case alone. The New York Times claims to own its words and sentences and is furious that ChatGPT takes it verbatim, allowing people to gain access to ideas without having paid for them. If this is true, The NYT should have a major beef with the whole of corporate media and academia too, since it long ago set out to be the standard-bearer of approved thought and conventional wisdom. AI is merely amplifying.

I have no clue how the courts are going to come down on this question. Regardless, the implications of this case are rather broad. OpenAI and Microsoft admit that they have been using The NY Times for its services but say that this constitutes fair use in the law.

Truth is that the phrase “fair use” does not have a rigorously strict definition. It is what the courts say it is. It’s an exception to the rules concerning copyright that bows to the reality that information is not containable like real property. Without fair use, we would live in a preposterous world in which everyone would be required to forget what he learned by reading anything. So maybe it is fair use and maybe it is not.

A larger problem is the institution of copyright itself. Today it is based on the intuition that a creator should own his work. It did not start out that way, however. That was the whole point of the original Statute of Anne (1709). It amounted to a royal grant of monopoly privilege for publishers and authors, and it was deployed mostly for purposes of censoring dissident political and religious opinions. It also set off centuries of litigation in the commonwealth countries and in the United States.

The practical import of copyright today has very little to do with authors’ rights and mainly centers on the rights of publishers to retain exclusive printing and distribution rights to works. Over the years, the term has been extended, from 28 years to 70 years after the lifetime of the author.

That’s how long publishers retain rights. In the old days, publishers would let books go out of print and the rights would revert to the author. No more. Now publishers keep catalogs for the whole term, resulting in an odd situation in which the author loses all intellectual rights and only his grandchildren are in a position to reprint.

It’s nuts, but that’s how the law works. There are hundreds of thousands of books published after 1930 that are still in copyright and have not been digitized. They are inaccessible for all practical purposes in today’s world. And yet they pay no royalties and even the rights holders have forgotten about them. This is a giant tragedy.

The whole theory of copyright is wrong. It is based on the model of private property, as in real things. Real property is ownership exclusive. If I have a fish, you cannot have the same fish. If I have a boat, you cannot have it too at the same time. That’s why the social norm of property came about in the first place: to allocate the rights of control over things that are scarce. It is designed to prevent conflict and bring peace.

But ideas once created are not scarce. You can take every idea in this article and it takes nothing from me. Ideas are infinitely reproducible and therefore not like property at all. The attempt to make them into property requires state action and ends up creating industrial monopolies that benefit not authors but publishers. When authors get paid, it is called getting “royalties,” as in a stream of money from a royal grant of privilege. There is nothing wrong with getting paid based on sales but that can and does happen without copyright.

For example, you cannot copyright recipes, but services that provide recipes for cooking are a highly lucrative business. You cannot copyright sports strategies and plays, but there is a huge demand for books on them. Same with chess moves. It was true with music until the 1880s in Germany: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms composed without copyright by simply selling publishers access to their works. This did not diminish output but arguably made it better by ensuring a highly competitive marketplace.

In the early days, you could not copyright computer code either. That’s how it came to be that spreadsheet technology became so dominant so quickly and transformed business life. Only later did copyright come along. Now any developer will tell you that the entire industry is gummed up by intellectual property claims. That’s true of many industries today. Hardly anyone is truly happy with the regime as it exists, except perhaps Disney, which has long lobbied for longer terms.

In any case, ChatGPT is doing nothing morally wrong by scraping The New York Times for content. I happen to think this is a bad business idea because The NY Times is a known propaganda sheet and far from definitive on any topic. But that is the choice that OpenAI (wrongly named because they are taking recourse to intellectual property too) has decided to make. I hope the courts side with OpenAI, but that would be only a temporary fix to a much larger problem of the institution of copyright itself.

In conclusion, the intersection of AI and copyright necessitates thoughtful reflection, interdisciplinary collaboration, and an adaptive legal framework. Just kidding!

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 16:40

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Vivek Slams CNN For ‘Egregious Interference’ After Town Hall Answers Go Viral

Vivek Slams CNN For ‘Egregious Interference’ After Town Hall Answers Go Viral

2024 GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy slammed CNN for what he characterized as ‘egregious interference’ with the Iowa GOP caucus for allegedly cutting his Town Hall short and then threatening his campaign with a cease-and-desist for posting it to YouTube (while allowing Nikki Haley to do the same).

“CNN’s egregious interference with the Iowa GOP caucus is offensive,” Ramaswamy wrote. “My CNN town hall with the voters here went so well that they cut it off early & then threatened our campaign with a cease-and-desist for posting it on YouTube, while Nikki Haley’s scripted CNN town hall from 6 months ago is still up.”

Basically, Vivek has been rocking audiences – giving clear, solid answers to various ‘gotchas’ and clearly swaying those in attendance.

During the CNN town hall, anchor Abby Phillip tried a new tactic to defuse Ramaswamy and disrupt his ability to convey the facts:  She simply kept talking over top of him, contradicting his statements and then refused to give him an opportunity to answer back.  

The strategy did not work quite as well as she might have hoped, as Vivek trampled her expertly.  

Also, take 8 minutes to watch a recent answer on reverse-racism.

He also nailed a Civil War question:


Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 16:05

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“We Are Going To See ‘Collisions’ All Over The Planet” – Pushback Against Tyranny & Control Will Accelerate In 2024

“We Are Going To See ‘Collisions’ All Over The Planet” – Pushback Against Tyranny & Control Will Accelerate In 2024

Via Greg Hunter’s,

Catherine Austin Fitts (CAF), Publisher of The Solari Report, financial expert and former Assistant Secretary of Housing (Bush 41 Admin.), says the top story (out of 20 top stories) of 2023 was massive, documented pushback to tyranny and control by the evil Deep State globalists. 

CAF explains, Our top story of 2023 is ‘The Year of Pushback.’  It was so long, and it was so big, we had to make a special page and move the other 19 top stories to a whole different section on another page.”

Just a few of the 2023 stories that documented this massive pushback, according to CAF, are,

Stories on Constitutional protections, different litigations on the First Amendment and the Second Amendment, and we have one on information sovereignty and infrastructure. 

We have stories on all the pushback against the media, including litigation to hold people accountable and stopping emergency powers. 

We have culture wars about saying no to international organizations. 

Woke capital controls and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance investing) is toast. 

The state AGs have gone after ESG and Larry Fink (BlackRock CEO), and he’s had to publicly backpedal.  They are steamrolling him. 

We had another story about taking it to the streets and have a whole section on ‘Pushback Heros.’ …

In 2023, people started to realize that it is kill or be killed.  We have to push back because there is no going along with this. 

They are trying to kill us, number one.  Then they are trying to take all of our stuff, and we can’t let them.

CAF also talks about what she calls “massive collateral fraud.”  CAF goes on to say,

The collateral fraud is enormous, and we have talked about the money (trillions of dollars) that has gone ‘missing’ for years from the federal government. 

This is what’s been going on in the United States and around the world for years. You issue debt, you get a whole bunch of money, and then the money disappears…

So, there is an extraordinarily fraudulent system going on around the debt markets. 

The reality is if you are going to run a bubble like that, you need very strict control of the collateral. 

This is what “The Great Taking” is all about. 

2024 is the year the pushback can put us over the top.”

CAF thinks gold is a “must have” investment for the coming years. The US dollar is being weakened, but it is still “dominant and dangerous.”

In closing, CAF says:

“I think we are going see collisions at a spiritual, legal, financial and physical level increasing all over the planet.  This is a real war, and we are in World War III now.

The US is going to defend the dollar…”

There is much more in the 1-hour and 2-minute in-depth interview.

Join Greg Hunter of as he goes One-on-One with the Publisher of The Solari Report, Catherine Austin Fitts for 12.30.23.

*  *  *

To Donate to Click Here

You can get way more cutting-edge analysis from Catherine Austin Fitts and “The Solari Report” by becoming a subscriber by clicking here.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 15:30

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2023 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2023 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2022, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as the sheer breadth of stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments made 2022 the most memorable year yet in our brief but turbulent history. This proved accurate: while 2023 did have a seemingly endless variety of social, economic, political, geopolitical and of course, financial and market, drama, the unprecedented onslaught of 2022 – which saw both the deadliest and most consequential global war since WWII and a historic inflationary onslaught – simply proved too great to beat…. although we are confident that’s only because the newsflow was merely resting ahead of 2024 when, thanks to a record number of elections across the world…

… not to mention what may well be the most consequential presidential election in US history, the coming avalanche of news and propaganda will be sheer insanity, especially since the Fed has made its long awaited dovish pivot without successfully stamping out inflation first. So in retrospect, 2023 being somewhat tame by recent standards may have been a good thing: it allowed everyone to rest ahead of the main event.

And speaking of the worst inflation in 40 years, it didn’t take long for our second major prediction to come true: as we said exactly one year ago the “simplest forecast about the coming year is that 2023 will be the year when something finally breaks.That’s exactly what happened just three months later when the rapidly rising rates catalyzed the worst banking crisis in the US banking sector since the Lehman collapse. As the Fed raised rates, the value of banks’ bond portfolios fell, and those whose balance sheets were smaller – so pretty much all but the “Big 4” – found themselves in a toxic spiral of bank runs and asset liquidations, which culminated with virtually every small and regional bank on the verge of collapse, and some – such as the two largest California banks (those overseen by the “woke” San Fran Fed whose boss is the LGBTQueen of diversity, if not bank supervision, Mary Daly) First Republic, and Silicon Valley bank, as well as NY’s premium client-focused Signature Bank – were dragged into the vortex of bank insolvency, leading to over $500 billion in bank assets failing in a matter of days, matching the record from the global financial crisis.

It was this “break” which culminated with the worst bank run and largest bank failures in 15 years – not to mention the overnight failure of Credit Suisse, the 167-year-old second largest Swiss bank that was bought by UBS for pennies (literally) thanks to Swiss taxpayers once again stuck footing the bill and holding the radioactive garbage – that preemptively ended the Fed’s tightening cycle (even if rate hikes continued for another 6 or so months, if only for optical reasons) and marked the end of the Fed’s reserve reduction…

… which also triggered the start of the next bull market.

Indeed, after bottoming around 3800 on March 10, the Fed’s intervention to prevent further bank contagion was all the market needed to know that the “Fed put” had been triggered, and the S&P closed the year 1000 points higher, less than a percent from the all time highs.

Another prediction about 2023 that came true is that as “the past three years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true “black swans”, it won’t be what anyone had expected.” And sure enough, books will be written (and certainly articles in the WSJ, Bloomberg and Zerohedge) about just how wrong everyone was: Exhibit A is this Goldman chart from January 2023, showing that “this is arguably the most widely anticipated recession.

Well, 2023 has come and gone and the recession-defining NBER remained quiet, with the US economy seemingly avoiding the contractionary fate of its European peers (at least on a “seasonally adjusted” basis), and as the recession was averted so was the bear market that so many strategists were certain was inevitable. It wasn’t just the recession that never officially materialized (hold that thought): as Bloomberg wrote , “all across Wall Street, on equities desks and bond desks, at giant firms and niche outfits, the mood was glum. It was the end of 2022 and everyone, it seemed, was game-planning for the recession they were convinced was coming…. blended together, three calls — sell US stocks, buy Treasuries, buy Chinese stocks — formed the consensus view on Wall Street.” And, as always happens, consensus on Wall Street proved to be wrong again.

But was consensus really wrong? As usual, the answer is nuanced, because while on the surface the economy grew at a brisk pace, the reason for this growth was anything but benign, and as we explained in July, the catalyst behind the “miracle of Bidenomics” was a $1 trillion debt-funded “stealth” stimulus which pushed the US budget deficit above its $1 trillion trendline to crisis/wartime levels, up 50% from the previous year, and rising to a mindblowing $2 trillion for fiscal 2023 just behind the covid crisis years of 2020 and 2021.

And while this “era of fiscal excess” as Bank of America’s Michael Hartnett laconically called the current period, noting that in the past 12 months the US government has spent $6.6 trillion, would – in theory at least – assure perpetual growth as long as one could issue ever more debt and pretend it was “growth”, in 2023 the US finally hit a historic milestone: $1 trillion in interest expense for the first time ever.

That was a huge problem, because once spending on just US interest surpassed the entire US defense budget, people started to notice. It’s also why, with 10Y yields hitting 5% and putting the entire “dollar as a reserve currency” monetary hegemonic status quo in jeopardy as runaway debt interest threatened to blow up the perpetual engine that had made US superpower status in the past half century – that would be unconstrained US debt spending – possible, the Fed had no other choice but to pivot dovishly, just as we predicted in the waning days of 2022…

… which is what the Fed did in December 2023 – even as core inflation remains double the Fed’s 2% target – prompting speculation that the Fed has stealthily raised its long-standing 2% inflation target to 3% or even 4%, and thereby setting the state for the blow-off top in inflation some time in 2024 as the ghost of Arthur Burns finally comes home to roost in the Marriner Eccles buildng.

Of course, the inevitable end of the inflation story (at least until the much more exciting sequel begins some time in 2024), had profound reverberations elsewhere, and as headline CPI dropped, wage growth – the BLS told us – surpassed inflation for the first time since the post-covid recovery began in the second half of 2020.

While this would be great news for Biden as the 2024 election season kicks off and the “Big Guy” goes all in on his re-election campaign, there was just one problem: people either didn’t believe the data or just didn’t care. Indeed, most Americans, and especially swing-state voters, remained glum about the economy, and 52% of voters in these states rated the economy “poor” in closely watched polls this fall, with another 29% saying it was “only fair.”

In short, Bidenomics was a dud, which is also why the White House started taking pages straight out of the Goebbels propaganda playbook. Yet what was bizarre if not outright paradoxical, is that US consumer spending remained high, especially on services such as concerts from Beyonce and Taylor Swift to movies like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”

Adding to the puzzle is that just as spending hit all-time highs, consumer confidence plunged to new, record lows.

Many were confused over what accounted for the disconnect: persistently high prices? Recession fears? The “vibecession”? Whatever the explanation, voters’ feelings about the economy, and Joe Biden’s handling of it, will be decisive in the 2024 election, especially now that even the Fed pivoted in a way to tips the scales in Biden’s favor, something former NY Fed chief Bill Dudley urged all the way back in 2019.

And speaking of wages overtaking inflation, this summer much of America ground to a halt as tens of thousands of actors and screenwriters went on strike in July, bringing Hollywood to a halt, amid fears that AI will put most of the local “talent” out of job (it will). The strikes were part of a wave of labor activity in the United States this year, including targeted strikes by the United Automobile Workers union. Despite the recent uptick, overall union activity has fallen since the 1970s and ’80s; still the strikes were successful with union workers managing to negotiate solid, double-digit raises for themselves, assuring that inflation’s return is just a matter of time.

There was another big driver behind inflation both in 2022 and 2023, as not one but two brutal wars underscored the fragility of the global economic recovery and rewired the world’s trade relationships. For an example look no further than the geopolitics of oil. Prices soared above $120 a barrel after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, then steadily fell amid surging US oil production and signs of a global economic slowdown. Here China’s aborted attempt to escape from covid zero with a burst of growth was key… yet Beijing’s inability to flood the economy with stimulus was obvious to anyone who had seen China’s record 300% debt/GDP ratio: China simply had no more space where to park and hide any new growth, pardon debt.

But while the Ukraine war slowly faded away from the front pages as Zelensky’s counteroffensive proved to be a disaster and now US and European officials and the legacy media are openly discussing a negotiated peace as the war’s “best” outcome (after blasting it as pro-Putin appeasement just one year ago), it was replaced in October with the violent and dramatic breakout of the most brutal Middle-East conflict in decades, as the Israel-Hamas war raised new fears that oil prices would spike and reignite inflation. Despite shipping snarls in the Red Sea and Suez Canal, those concerns have yet to materialize largely thanks to huge overproduction in the US at a time of rampant shale M&A activity as potential acquisition targets do everything they can to literally flood the market and boost EBITDA and cash flow in hopes of impressing potential suitors. This too shall pass, and very soon.

Until then, however, thanks to the Russia-Ukraine war, India and China have emerged as key beneficiaries. India, profiting from its neutrality, went from buying hardly any Russian oil to buying about half of what the country exports by sea.

Trade between China and Russia has also surged, surpassing $200 billion in the first 11 months of this year while Chinese cars are now flooding Russia.

Not surprisingly, just a few days ago we learned that the Chinese yuan has overtaken the Japanese yen to become the fourth most-used currency by value in global payments.

Of course, it’s not just Russia benefiting from China’s redirected trade routes: countries like Mexico and Vietnam have also gained ground. And since those countries import mostly intermediate goods from China, American supply chains still remain reliant on Chinese production. In fact, China is now the dominant supplier of industrial inputs across the world.

As other countries have seen a pick up in Chinese trade, China’s share of exports to the United States has fallen in recent years, as a result of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and maintained by Biden even though tensions between the two superpowers stabilized briefly after Biden’s meeting with President Xi Jinping of China on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November… even though Biden again calling Xi a dictator for the second time went over as a lead spy balloon in Beijing, as Anthony Blinken’s face made abundantly clear.

Still, there is another reason why the US can’t decouple easily from China: semiconductors. China is a major market for these advanced computer chips, which can be used to power artificial intelligence systems. This fall, the Biden administration tightened its export controls on semiconductors, making it harder for U.S. companies to sell them to China. But big chipmakers like Nvidia are already working on modified chips to sell to Chinese markets, hoping to skirt the restrictions.

And speaking of Nvidia, we would be remiss not to mention the single biggest market narrative – and tech story – of 2023, namely the unprecedented AI mania, which manifested itself in an explosion in the “Magnificent 7” mega tech stocks which now make up a record 30% of the S&P’s market cap…

… thanks to a historic outperformance of this group of 7 tech names which doubled their price in 2023 even as much of the rest of the market went nowhere this year, at least until the Fed’s dovish pivot, which finally lifted all boats in the last two weeks of the year.

It wasn’t just the latest stock bubble however: the world’s infatuation with the chatGPT chatbot led to an explosion of investment in generative A.I. start-ups, including Microsoft’s $10 billion backing in OpenAI. Microsoft’s relationship with OpenAI has since come under scrutiny, particularly its role in the reinstatement of Sam Altman as OpenAI’s CEO after a boardroom coup that set off a chaotic five days at the start-up and was a moment of unforgettable drama for nerds everywhere. Whether A.I. remains the market juggernaut it was in 2023 may be decided in the courts: on Dec. 27, The New York Times became the first major American media organization to sue OpenAI and Microsoft over A.I.-related copyright issues, saying in the lawsuit that the companies should be held responsible for the “unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.”

What is just as remarkable is that people actually use ChatGPT or rather chat LGPTQ, since we now have proof that as a large language model it uses data and signal exclusively from hard-liberal and leftist organizations, thus making most of its “answers” false, unreliable, “woke” and generally useless.

And speaking of the latest attempt to control and dominate the conversation, this time using chatGPT, we remind readers that away from markets and geopolitical conflicts, the next most important topic in the past year were the revelations from the Twitter Files and subsequent exposes, all revealing just how little free speech there really is in the so-called land of the free and the home of the First Amendment, and how countless three-lettered, deep-state alphabet agencies – and the military-industrial complex – will do anything and everything to control both the official discourse and the unofficial narrative to keep their preferred puppets in the White House, and keep those they disapprove of – censored and/or locked up, both literally and metaphorically… or simply designate them “conspiracy theorists.” None other than Matt Taibbi wrote the best summary of what the Twitter Files revealed, namely America’s stealthy conversion into a crypto-fascist state where some unelected government bureaucrat tells corporations what to do and decides the fate of ordinary Americans every single day without any due process:

This last week saw the FBI describe Lee Fang, Michael Shellenberger and me as “conspiracy theorists” whose “sole aim” is to discredit the agency. That statement will look ironic soon, as we spent much of this week learning about other agencies and organizations that can now also be discredited thanks to these files.

A group of us spent the last weeks reading thousands of documents. For me a lot of that time was spent learning how Twitter functioned, specifically its relationships with government. How weird is modern-day America? Not long ago, CIA veterans tell me, the information above the “tearline” of a U.S. government intelligence cable would include the station of origin and any other CIA offices copied on the report.

I spent much of today looking at exactly similar documents, seemingly written by the same people, except the “offices” copied at the top of their reports weren’t other agency stations, but Twitter’s Silicon Valley colleagues: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, even Wikipedia. It turns out these are the new principal intelligence outposts of the American empire. A subplot is these companies seem not to have had much choice in being made key parts of a global surveillance and information control apparatus, although evidence suggests their Quislingian executives were mostly all thrilled to be absorbed. Details on those “Other Government Agencies” soon, probably tomorrow.

One happy-ish thought at month’s end:

Sometime in the last decade, many people — I was one — began to feel robbed of their sense of normalcy by something we couldn’t define. Increasingly glued to our phones, we saw that the version of the world that was spat out at us from them seemed distorted. The public’s reactions to various news events seemed off-kilter, being either way too intense, not intense enough, or simply unbelievable. You’d read that seemingly everyone in the world was in agreement that a certain thing was true, except it seemed ridiculous to you, which put you in an awkward place with friends, family, others. Should you say something? Are you the crazy one?

I can’t have been the only person to have struggled psychologically during this time. This is why these Twitter files have been such a balm. This is the reality they stole from us! It’s repulsive, horrifying, and dystopian, a gruesome history of a world run by anti-people, but I’ll take it any day over the vile and insulting facsimile of truth they’ve been selling. Personally, once I saw that these lurid files could be used as a road map back to something like reality — I wasn’t sure until this week — I relaxed for the first time in probably seven or eight years.

One year later, the legacy media has only gotten worse, with the likes of the NYT, publishers of such tripe seeking to justify an illegitimate and corrupt first crime family, and WaPo spewing propaganda for the corrupt elite, and officially becoming the PR arm of both the White House and the Military Industrial Complex/ US Intel Services/ Deep State. Meanwhile, X (fka Twitter), once the most corrupt and censored social media network in the world, has emerged as a bastion of free speech (Elon even brought back Alex Jones) even as virtue-signaling corporations (who all work in conjunction with the deep state in hopes of getting some fast-track access to those very generous taxpayer-funded government contracts) are doing everything in their power to demonetize and starve the company by pulling their ads; we say this as one of the first media outlets that was dubbed “conspiracy theorists” by the authorities, long before everyone else joined the club. Oh yes, we’ve been there: we were suspended for half a year on Twitter for telling the truth about Covid, and then we lost most of our advertisers after the Atlantic Council‘s weaponized “fact-checkers” such as Newsguard put us on every ad agency’s black list while anonymous CIA sources at the AP slandered us for being “Kremlin puppets” – which reminds us: for those with the means, desire and willingness to support us, please do so by becoming a premium member: we are now almost entirely reader-funded so your financial assistance will be instrumental to ensure our continued survival into 2024 and beyond.

The bottom line, at least for us, is that the past four years have been a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which makes the dystopian nightmare of 1984 seem more real each day, and we have since taken measures. Three years ago, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn’t our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us for good. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year when, with the 2024 elections at stake, the deep state will stop at nothing to silence all independent voices.

And why would they: just a few days ago, some woke, unelected Karen in Maine named Shenna Bellows showed just how far the left was willing to go when she decided that it is incumbent upon her – and her alone – to determine what is in the best interest of hundreds of millions of Americans when this secretary of state – not some court, not some group of elected officials – decided to remove Donald Trump from the state’s presidential ballot and disenfranchise half of the country (something democrats have shown a tremendous aptitude for, even as they are more than eager to collect taxes from those who still generate income and pay some of it back to the government as taxes, i.e. mostly republicans). Even a Democratic congressman who voted to impeach Trump over the January 6th riots, quickly issued a statement: “We are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot.” Matt Taibbi summarized it best: “Is there any way this ends well? It feels harder and harder to imagine. “

As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website – which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from either Putin or the KGB either, sorry CIA) and has never spent one dollar on marketing – a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine.

Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we – and others who do not comply with the established narrative – have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from “dangerous, fake information.” It’s also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website.

In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to only accelerate in the coming year especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2023 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch with a ten foot pole, both out of fear of repercussions and because the MSM has now become a PR agency for either a political party or some unelected, deep state bureaucrat, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an information vacuum (in less than a decade, Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter will seem like one of the century’s biggest bargains) and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which established media outlets refuse to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory “fake news” condemnation.

We are grateful that our readers have, for the 15th year in a row, realized that it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn’t “fake news.”

* * *

And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 14-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 201020112012201320142015201620172018, 2019, 2020 , 2021 and 2022.

So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year.

  • In 20th spot with 540,000 views, was one of the year’s first admissions that – contrary to the prevailing propaganda – the war in Ukraine, which would end up being a $100BN+ and rising drain on taxpayer funds, was not going as widely reported; in fact it wasn’t going at all. Indeed, as we observed in NBC Reporter Goes To Crimea, Shocks Viewers By Telling The Truth the Deep State’s favorite media outlet, MSNBC made the first concession that Zelensky’s goal of retaking Crime is unrealistic and dangerous. In response, the establishment reporter immediately wound up on the Ukrainian government’s kill list. But while Ukraine may have succeeded in silencing this one particular pawn, subsequent revelations and an ongoing internal power struggle inside Ukraine, all but guarantee that the war is almost over and that the Biden family’s crimes in Ukraine will sooner or later make the light of day .

  • Another topic which none in the media would discuss openly, or truthfully, for fears of retaliation from the deep state was the article that was the 19th most popular of the year. Over 543,000 readers were probably not too shocked to learn that according to famed journalist and Pulitzer prize winner Seymour Hersh, the infamous Nord Stream sabotage of 2022 was yet another CIA covert op, meant to incite an escalation of conflict in the Russian-Ukraine war, and to terminally halt Russian transit of natural gas to Europe. Who benefited? Why the US of course, as shipments of LNG to Europe (as the US stepped in to “generously” replace Russia as a source of gas) blew away all records. In fact, one could argue that the Ukraine war was orchestrated precisely for that one purpose: to ensure that US nat gas exports would boom for years to come courtesy of a captive market, Europe, which would be prevented from importing much cheaper Russian gas for years to come.

  • Almost 5 years after the breakout of the covid pandemic which crippled global economies and led to the injection of tens of trillions in monetary and fiscal stimulus, precipitating the biggest inflationary wave in modern history, there is still no definitive explanation of where the virus came from (or rather, escaped) and why there has been no punishment yet for those Wuhan Institute workers (and those Americans giving them instructions and funding) responsible for countless deaths and millions of businesses shut down. However, when a mysterious Chinese biolab was discovered in a remote California City,  some 543K Zerohedge readers wondered what if any connection this lab in the middle of nowhere had to i) covid, ii) China’s bioweapons industry and iii) how many more such labs exist across the US and what exactly are they doing? That was enough to make this bizarre story the 18th most popular on this website in 2023.

  • For the 17th most read article we go to a topic the mainstream media, which sadly has become a PR and Propaganda arm of the White House, the deep state and the military industrial complex, has steadfastly refused the touch namely the unprecedented corruption in the country which the Biden admin and various MIC-adjacent politicians have decided is the newest US state: Ukraine. Early in 2023, we reported that Ukraine Is Rocked By Corruption Scandal, Wave Of Top Officials Resign: Sports Cars, Mansions & Luxury Vacations As People Suffered, however none of that matters since none of the legacy media dared to expose just who all those tens of billions in US taxpayer funds have gone to. And now, almost a year later, Ukraine is losing the war, Zelensky and his comrades are on slowly but surely on their way out, and yet nobody knows where that $100BN+ in funds have gone. We can certainly hope that one day, long after the biggest money-laundering experiment in modern history is over, forensic historians will trace all that money which is bigger than the GDP of most nations, however – just like the Epstein client list – we doubt it will ever happen.

  • Nearly 560K readers were surprised to learn that the Magic Kingdom has become so expensive, almost nobody can afford to go there any more. Indeed, in 2023 a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland with the whole family has become simply too expensive leading many to ask Where Is Everyone? Disney World “Just About Empty as CEO Bob Iger himself admitted customer affordability issues; add the direct consequences of price-gouging families, plus the ‘woke’ backlash, and you get one of the slowest periods at Walt Disney World in Orlando on July 4 in a decade. Meanwhile the plunge of Disney stock to a decade low coupled with South Park now mercilessly mocking the hollow shell of a woke company, spark some hope that after a wholesale sacking of the incompetent management, the slate may be wiped clean and the company can go back to doing what it does best: not grooming or propaganda but innocent entertainment for generations of children.

  • Confirming yet again that the cover up is always worse than the crime, the 15th most popular post of 2023 with over 560K hits focused on the still unfolding consequences of the biggest story of 2020, namely the unprecedented cover up of the covid “vaccine” as a Bombshell Vax Analysis Found $147 Billion In Economic Damage, Tens Of Millions Injured Or Disabled.” And since the corrupt and captured media still refuses to do its jobs and get to the bottom of who benefited – and what were the full consequences – from rushing the biggest medical experiment in history, it is the independent media, which is increasingly performing the investigative role of the MSM, that will benefit from the corruption and capture that has dominated what was once the fourth estate but is now just a waning shadow of its former formidable self.

  • 2023 was not only a year where many cover-ups were exposed; it was also a year when “something finally broke”, and it wasn’t just US regional banks: in March, as the world was rocked by a relentless wave of bank runs, the second largest Swiss bank got Lehmaned, and failed over a long weekend, despite obtaining a government backstop just hours earlier as we detailed in Credit Suisse To Borrow $54BN From SNB To “Pre-emptively Strengthen Liquidity,” a story which was read by 572K readers – many of whom current or former Credit Suisse customers – making it the 14th most popular story of 2023. In the end it was not enough, because once confidence in a bank is shaken it never returns, and neither do the deposits that have been pulled… and so less than a week later, Credit Suisse was no more, its existence over after 167 years, with UBS taking over (with the generous funding of Swiss taxpayers) and becoming the most systematically important European bank, one which not even all of Switzerland will be able to backstop during the next banking crisis.

  • With historic presidential elections on deck in 2024, and a repeat of the 2020 violence – where secretive Soros-funded entities funded and encouraged a bloody summer across the US  – virtually assured, it is worth recalling what Tucker Carlson reported a few months ago, namely that the catalyst behind much of the government-encouraged Black Lives Matter violence of 2020, was fake and The Whole George Floyd Story Was A Lie“, a report which was watched and read by nearly 600K people. Unfortunately, with much of the US judicial system in Soros’ pocket, and with dozens of big city DAs seeking to decriminalize rioting and theft by the black community, more violence is guaranteed, the only question is what fake pretext the deep state will use this time.

  • On the last day of 2022 we predicted that “2023 will be the year when something finally breaks“, and three months later we were proven right, when as a result of soaring rates US regional banks suddenly found that the value of their fixed income collateral was worth far less when marked to market than the deposits it was pledged against, resulting in widespread liquidity and solvency fears, accelerating bank runs and culminating with the second Fed panic since 2008, asSignature Bank Was Closed By Regulators; Fed, TSY, FDIC Announce Another Banking System Bailout, a reminder to no less than 621K readers that the US financial system was as brittle and unstable as ever despite trillions in liquidity injected into the market and meant only to make the rich richer. Nearly a year later, the regional US bank zombies that would have collapsed in March live on thanks to the Fed’s BTFP facility which matures in March, and which if pulled would lead to an even greater crisis in the US banking sector. Ironically that’s also when the Fed’s Reverse Repo facility is expected to be drained to zero, so if anyone is trying to pin the date of the next financial crisis in the calendar, March increasingly looks like the prime month for that.

  • Following the start of October’s Israel-Hamas war, the bloodiest breakout of Middle-Eastern violence in decades, we said that “there is some speculation that Iran may get dragged in with various pro-Israeli hawks claiming that the Hamas attack would have only occurred with explicit Iranian backing.” Just a few hours later this was confirmed as we reported in Iran Helped Hamas “Plot Israel Attack Over Several Weeks”, Gave Green Light“, the 11th most popular article of 2023, which revealed that “Iranian security officials helped plan Hamas’s Saturday surprise attack on Israel and gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday”, according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah. But while the US would have swiftly retaliated in the past, if only to convince the world that it is still a military superpower, so far the Biden regime has remained silent, terrified of a military response, but not because of some newfound appreciation for state sovereignty or non-intervention, but simply because the president is afraid what a surge in oil and gas prices – which would be an inevitable outcome of Iran getting dragged into the war – would mean for his re-election chances.

  • In case you didn’t figure it out by now, 2023 was a year when many cover ups were exposed, and among the most flagrant ones was the leak of the Nashville transsexual shooter’s manifesto, which as we revealed in Biden’s DOJ suppressed the Nashville Transkiller’s manifesto after learning they used Democrat talking points to justify targeting white Christian children“, which with over 670K reads was the 10th most popular article of 2023, revealed that Biden’s DOJ suppressed the Nashville Transkiller’s manifesto after learning it used Democrat talking points to justify targeting white Christian children. Of course, the DOJ never had any such qualms when revealing motives from the other side of the political aisle, confirming yet again that there is nothing too low for Biden’s weaponized Department of Injustice to stoop below, not even death.

  • Continuing our trek through the top 10 stories of 2023, we next look at the immediate aftermath of the Israel-Hamas war, where just hours after the violence had broken out, the world quickly revealed how little it thought of the Biden administration, and US “superpower status”, when as 731K readers found out,Arab Leaders Refuse To Meet Biden As Protests Rage Around The World.” The title is self-explanatory – and an embarrassment to Americans – even if said Americans deserve to know just who is the puppet-master pulling the strings of the senile, demented occupant of the White House.

  • Remember when merely breathing the world “Ivermectin” in the aftermath of the covid pandemic was enough to blacklist you from social media and polite society in perpetuity, and get you branded as a tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist for life? Well, if we have learned anything in recent years, is that the time from when an idea emerges as a “conspiracy” to when it is fully confirmed even by the powers that be has shrunk to mere months, and as we reported inFDA Drops Ivermectin Bombshell“, our 8th most popular article of 2023, nearly 740K readers learned from an FDA lawyer that doctors were, in fact, free to prescribe ivermectin to treat COVID-19. The case had been brought by three doctors who alleged the FDA unlawfully interfered with their practice of medicine with the statements. Then a federal judge dismissed the case in 2022, prompting an appeal. “The fundamental issue in this case is straightforward. After the FDA approves the human drug for sale, does it then have the authority to interfere with how that drug is used within the doctor-patient relationship? The answer is no,” Jared Kelson, representing the doctors, told the appeals court. Hilariously, the FDA on Aug. 21, 2021, wrote on Twitter You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” In retrospect it was right: it turned out most people who believed the government’s lies were at best sheep.

  • Tragedy rocked the town of East Palestine, Ohio last February when the derailment of a train carrying toxic and carcinogenic compounds resulted in a historic chemical spill and led  to large sections of the town becoming unlivable as reported inOhio’s Apocalyptic Chemical Disaster Rages On“, the 7th most popular story of 2023 with over 755K views. The spill immediately became a political flashpoint, with Donald Trump visiting East Palestine and handed out Make America Great Again hats, telling the crowd: “You are not forgotten.” Unfortunately, the town has certainly been forgotten by the current “president” who to this day has refused to visit the town despite countless promises he would do just that.

  • In many ways, 2023 was the year when alternative, independent media truly took over, and it wasn’t just X/Twitter that dominated the news, while being the news: it is also the year when traditional media fell apart, such as the various anchors fleeing the sinking ship that is CNN, but the most vivid example was Tucker Carlson’s departure from Fox News – the channel that was only relevant because of Tucker’s segment – and the launch of his own media organization. As so many others have found out, media personalities were only allowed to truly speak their minds when separated from the corporations where they operated previously (so as not to offend advertisers), something Tucker understood and laid out in one of his most bombshell interviews, explaining why Our System Is Collapsing In Real Time, which was also our 6th most read article with 762K reads.

  • Finally, turning to the top 5 articles of 2023, it should not be a surprise that with almost 810K reads, the 5th most popular post of the year was the news that – with the Ukraine war fading from collective consciousness – a major new war had broken out in the Middle East, something we reported inIsrael In State of War With Hamas After Palestinian Militants Launch Unprecedented Incursion.”

  • Remember what we said about coverups? Well, it took less than three years from when Hunter Biden’s notebook emerged in the media – with the entire deep state apparatus defending it at first, and 51 former CIA spies vowing it was Russian propaganda – until all of its official contents were leaked as we reported in Trove Of Nearly 10K Hunter Biden Laptop Photos, Docs Appear On Organized Website.” Among the contents were not only documented acts of criminal debauchery, but also proof that the Biden family was engaged in flagrant influence peddling on behalf of such foreign regimes as Ukraine and China. Alas, the US justice system is now so corrupt and broken, and the media so captured, this news has seen barely any coverage and follow through; and meanwhile the gutless republican cowards in Congress still refuse to impeach the president despite ample proof – courtesy of his son – of his countless transgressions.

  • With over 875K reads, and clocking in at third spot for 2023, was one of the biggest shockers of the year: the decision by Murdoch and Fox News to sack their only true star, Tucker Carlson; And for what? For daring to speak to truth one too many times as we reported in Tucker Carlson Fired By Lachlan Murdoch; Here’s What We Know.” In retrospect, it will be the best thing that happened to Tucker, whose new venture already has well over 100,000 annual subs and growing at a torrid pace. Meanwhile, the biggest winner may well be the US population, which will have one more source of honest, accurate news while the malignant influence of conventional media fades with each passing day.

  • The second most popular story of 2023 was also a freak one: the short-lived attempt by Putin’s formerly close friend, Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner private mercenary force, to stage a military coup, yet not really a coup meant to overthrow Putin but instead targeted some of Prigozhin’s personal enemies in the top ranks of Russia’s army. The “Wagner rebellion” as it became known – and which came shortly after Prigozhin’s forces managed to smack down a Ukraine attempt at a counteroffensive earlier this summer – lasted all of a day or so, before it all died down as reported in Prigozhin ‘Exiled’ To Belarus In Exchange For Peace, Criminal Charges Dropped: What Was This All About?” the second most popular article of 2023 with nearly 900K reads. To this day there is no coherent explanation behind Prigozhin’s actions, and there probably won’t be: two months later the plane carrying the mercenary chief exploded. It’s still unclear why, but the most amusing theory was the one offered by Putin himself, who claimed that “Wagner leadership got drunk and/or high, then set off hand grenades during the flight.”

  • Finally, the top post of 2023 was one which also closed the loop on the top story of 2020: with nearly 1.1 million reads, the most popular article of the year was the CDC Finally Releasing VAERS Safety Monitoring Analyses For COVID Vaccines.” While the article offered lots of data, the bottom line is that the vaccine which the CDC claimed was safe and effective was neither safe nor effective.

And with all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2024, and the next decade?

We don’t know: as our frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don’t try, despite repeat baseless allegations that we constantly forecast the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the “smartest people in the room” who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2023 when one year after the entire world realized just how clueless the Fed had been when it called the most crushing inflation in two generations “transitory”, it was Wall Street’s reputation turn to hit new lows as even Bloomberg listed “Everything Wall Street Got Wrong in 2023“, in the process adding strategists and analysts to the clueless ranks of economists, conventional media and the professional polling class, not to mention all those “scientists” who made a mockery of both the scientific method and the “expert class” with their catastrophically bungled response to the covid pandemic, and then the response to the response, and so on… We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it.

We do know, however, that with central banks having flip-flopped yet again, and pivoting dovishly even as inflation still rages at 4%, wages – especially for unionized and government workers – growing at a double digit pace, home prices and rents about to lurch even higher, and overall prices stuck at all time highs, the most likely outcome is another surge in inflation and Jerome Powell becoming not the second coming of saint Paul Volcker but of satan Arthur Burns.

But even ignoring the impact on prices, one can’t just undo 15 years of central bank mistakes by wishing them away (even if it is an election year); after all it is the trillions and trillions in monetary stimulus, the helicopter money, the MMT, and the endless deficit funding by central banks that made the current runaway inflation possible, the current attempt to stuff 15 years of toothpaste back into the tube, will be a catastrophic failure.

We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will again be revealed as completely naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone’s guess. But, as we have promised – and delivered – every year for the past 15, we will be there to document every aspect of it.

Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2024, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2023 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day – usually with a cynical smile (and with the CIA clearly on our ass now) – helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken economic, political and financial system.

AI is not completely useless

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 14:55

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

‘Incompetence Has Consequences’ & Other Lessons From 2023

‘Incompetence Has Consequences’ & Other Lessons From 2023

Authored by Ben Shapiro via The Epoch Times,

2023 was a rather bad year.

Not as bad as 2024 is likely to be or as 2020 was.

But bad.

Nonetheless, we ought to learn from the bad as well as the good. So in a spirit of reflection, I offer a few lessons we ought to remember from this crummy year.

Lesson No. 1: A lot of people don’t think like we do. And failure to recognize the truth of this lesson leads to failures of imagination that in turn lead to suffering and death.

When Hamas slaughters infants in their cribs, rapes women in front of their husbands and takes them captive back to Gaza, and tortures and murders civilians, that isn’t because of some outsized grievance. It’s because they don’t have the same values as Westerners. Pretending that members of Hamas are simply freedom-loving people who seek material prosperity, quiet family lives, and tolerance for those who think differently isn’t just wrong; it’s catastrophically wrong. It’s also leading foolish Westerners to believe that appeasement of Hamas sympathizers will somehow alleviate Hamas’s evil terrorist behaviors or that the current deaths of civilians in the Gaza Strip are the result of Israeli indiscrimination rather than Hamas’s stated war objective of maximizing civilian casualties for the international media.

That’s a lie. And it’s a dangerous lie. It’s the same lie that led to 20 years of terror buildup in the Gaza Strip, funded and then ignored by the West. It’s the same lie that has led to thousands of deaths, both Israeli and Palestinian. It’s the same lie that led the West to import millions of radical Muslims into its heart, endangering both the social fabric and the future of the West itself.

Which brings us to lesson No. 2: The next generation is in serious moral peril.

As a recent Harvard-Harris poll shows, 79 percent of young Americans (18 to 24) agree that white people are oppressors and people of color are the oppressed; a similarly frightening two-thirds of young people believe that Jews are part of the oppressor class and “should be treated as oppressors.” This bodes ill for the future of republicanism: If Americans can quickly be classified as oppressor or oppressed not based on behavior but based on group identity, we’ll revert to the tribalism that destroys nations entirely.

Lesson No. 3: Weakness breeds aggression.

From Afghanistan to Crimea, weakness in the face of America’s enemies breeds aggression. Russia moved on Ukraine not predominantly because it feared NATO’s dominance but because it sensed Western weakness; right now, the Iranian government is flipping the activation switch on all of its proxy terror groups in the Middle East because of perceived Western cowardice. Should the West fail to confront the Houthis in the Red Sea, undoubtedly China will see the West’s unwillingness to expend even minor military resources to retain open trade lanes and will threaten Taiwan. The same is true with regard to America’s southern border: An open border breeds waves of illegal immigration, which is precisely what we’ve been seeing. Conversely, strength means facing hard realities and making sacrifices in order to confront them.

Lesson No. 4: What goes around comes around. Always.

This has been true for quite a while when it comes to American politics: Voiding the judicial filibuster means that the other party will cram through nominees on a party-line vote; militarizing the executive order will allow the other party’s president to do the same. Today, Democrats seem excited to weaponize the Department of Justice in order to target former President Donald Trump, the leading candidate to face off against President Joe Biden. What are the chances that precedent will be utilized by the Democrats’ opponents in the future? Refusal to acknowledge this reality means an endless cycle of escalating reprisal that ends only with actual conflict.

One final lesson: Incompetence has consequences.

We live in the richest and most powerful country in human history. That truth obscures the effects of incompetence at every level. But not for long. Eventually, the people tire of the incompetence of their leaders—and when they tire of the incompetence of leaders from all sides, they seek radical change to the systems themselves. Often, such changes are more perilous than the incompetence they seek to rectify. Which means that perhaps intermediate institutions—say, political parties—ought to flex their muscle in order to press forward competent people rather than caving to the whims of the moment.

So long, 2023.

Here’s to a better 2024.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 14:20

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Large Israeli Airstrikes On Southern Lebanon, US Warplanes Hit Iraq-Syria Border In Escalation

Large Israeli Airstrikes On Southern Lebanon, US Warplanes Hit Iraq-Syria Border In Escalation

The situation on Israel’s northern border has become increasingly volatile and the IDF has been ramping up airstrikes not only on Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, but in Syria as well.

This continued over the weekend into Sunday, after recent days of a series of attacks on Syria, which in one instance reportedly killed a group of high-ranking Iranian IRGC officers at Damascus international airport. Often Israeli warplanes use Lebanese airspace to attack near Damascus and in southern Syria.

Via Reuters

The IDF announced it hit targets in the Lebanese village of Ramyeh on Sunday morning, which included military buildings, according to the statement.

Israel alleged that Hezbollah “operates from the area of ​​the village, which is used as a terror center for the group to observe and carry out terror acts.”

The IDF said further the Iran-backed militant group launched missiles from Ramyeh, while “exploiting the civilian population in the village area and using it as a human shield.”

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal documented of the heightened tit-for-tat in Israel’s north:

The Israeli military said it returned fire following a strike from Syria overnight and launched extensive strikes against the militant Hezbollah movement in Lebanon amid a rise in hostilities with Iranian-backed militia groups across the region.

An increase in tensions among Israel, Iran and its militant allies throughout the Middle East is raising concerns about the opening of a second front in the nearly three-month-old war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The conflict also threatens to expand even further east, given over the weekend there were reports of major aerial attacks on pro-Iran militant positions along the Iraq-Syria border.

The Sunday morning IDF airstrikes on Lebanon appeared very large in scale…

There are conflicting reports as to whether it was the Americans or Israelis behind the attack on Al-Bukamal, but the Pentagon has long been known to occasionally go after targets there, especially after rocket and drone attacks on US bases in Syria and the region.

According to a Mideast-based outlet:

An aerial attack on Syria’s eastern sector near the Iraqi border in the early hours of December 30 resulted in the killing of at least seven people, Al-Mayadeen reported.

The air raids targeted the city of Al-Bukamal in the Deir Ezzor countryside, striking the al-Hajana building and Badr Hospital in the southern part of the city. 

The Lebanon-based outlet implied the possibility that the attacks were carried out by Israel, as the Israeli army said it carried out strikes in retaliation to a rocket volley that allegedly was fired from Syrian territory targeting the occupied Golan Heights on Friday evening.  

The report added, “However, Sham FM and Safa (Palestinian Press Agency), as well as local Iraqi sources, said that the attack was carried out by US warplanes.”

The Gaza War has already begun spilling over into the Red Sea region where Iran-backed Houthis and US warships are trading fire. And there are continuing fears the conflict could spiral out of control in Lebanon too if Hezbollah and Israel open a full war front. Already it seems they are on the cusp of a bigger fight, which could spread to Syria and into Iraq, setting the whole region on fire.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 13:45

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Repeat Influenza Vaccination Linked To Higher Risk Of Infection: CDC Preprint

Repeat Influenza Vaccination Linked To Higher Risk Of Infection: CDC Preprint

Authored by Marina Zhang via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A recent preprint co-authored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) U.S. Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Network Investigators finds that repeat annual influenza vaccines are associated with an increased risk of influenza infection.

The preprint authors initially wondered if vaccination timing and influenza infections in prior seasons may have contributed to repeat vaccinees’ increased risk of infection.

However, they concluded these factors “cannot fully explain the increased infection risk in repeat vaccinees compared with non-repeat vaccinees.”


Repeat Vaccinees More Likely to Contract 1 Type of Flu

The study followed patients who had presented themselves with respiratory diseases at one of the designated clinics between the 2011 and 2019 seasons. Over 55,000 clinical visits were analyzed, and vaccine status was further examined.

Repeat vaccinees, when compared against non-repeat vaccinees, had a 10 percent increased risk of contracting the influenza type A H3N2 virus but not for influenza type B and influenza type A H1N1 variants.

Those who contracted influenza in prior seasons were more protected against infection if the current circulating variant was of the same subtype.

While repeat vaccinees tended to get vaccinated around a week earlier than non-repeat vaccinees, and the unvaccinated who became infected the prior season did tend to get vaccinated the following season, the authors found that neither factor significantly changed the estimates on the effects of repeat vaccination.

An Ongoing Dilemma

Increased risk of influenza infection among the repeat vaccinated is a phenomenon commonly observed for decades.

As early as the 1970s, studies have signaled that repeat influenza vaccination was linked to reduced vaccine protection.

Similarly, a 2015 Canadian study found that the vaccine provided 43 percent protection among the unvaccinated, while those vaccinated the prior season had an immunity of -15 percent, meaning they were at a greater risk of infection than before.

The phenomenon has long troubled researchers.

A popular theory is the concept of original antigenic sin, meaning that regardless of what virus we encounter, the body is forever biased to respond to newer viral strains the same way it responded to the initial infection.

“Our immune systems react most strongly to the viral strains we encountered in our childhoods … According to the OAS [original antigenic sin] theory, no matter how many flu vaccines or COVID boosters we receive, our bodies would stubbornly insist on churning out tired antibodies against a bygone strain of a virus,” immunologist Gabriel D. Victora of Rockefeller University wrote in an article.

Furthermore, repeat vaccinations against the same virus have been shown to diminish the body’s antibody response.

A study published in Nature Communications found that people vaccinated with the same formulation for two consecutive years developed antibodies that are less effective at binding to and clearing viral components when they become infected—despite the viral strain being similar between those years.

Other studies contradict these findings.

Authors of a 2022 study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine found that “although vaccination in the previous year attenuates vaccine effectiveness, vaccination in two consecutive years provides better protection than does no vaccination.”

Natural immunity obtained by contracting an infection is generally suggested to be more effective than the short-term immunity gained from influenza vaccines, according to many experts.

The Nonspecific Effects of Vaccines

Biologist Alberto Rubio-Casillas at the University of Guadalajara told The Epoch Times in an email that different vaccines cause different nonspecific effects.

“That is, they not only prevent the vaccine-targeted disease but also reduce mortality from other infections. Vaccines apparently train the immune system in ways that reduce or enhance susceptibility to unrelated infections,” he said.

“All live-attenuated vaccines examined so far, including BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin), measles virus, and oral polio vaccine (OPV), have beneficial nonspecific effects … On the contrary, non-live vaccines induce negative nonspecific effects.”

Contrastingly, some studies have suggested that influenza vaccinations may also confer immunity against respiratory syncytial viruses.

Most authorized influenza vaccines now are non-live vaccines.

Live vaccines tend to generate longer and more effective immunity. However, they also tend to cause stronger immunological reactions that may not be effectively cleared by immunocompromised people or those with chronic health problems.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 13:00

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Watch: Cartel Gunfight Erupts With Mexican Military Near Arizona Port Of Entry

Watch: Cartel Gunfight Erupts With Mexican Military Near Arizona Port Of Entry

A byproduct of President Biden’s radical open-border policies is the rapid deterioration of the southern border. Footage from Friday shows an intense firefight involving cartel members and the Mexican military, occurring down the street from the Lukeville, Arizona, Port of Entry.

“Reports are coming in about a large firefight south of the Lukeville POE in AZ between the cartel and the Mexican military. Gunfire can be heard, and a small explosion. Possible vehicles are on fire. It is unusual for this type of direct contact between the cartel and GOM in that area,” former ICE field director John Fabbricatore wrote in an X post on Friday. 

Fabbricatore posted footage of cartel members and the military exchanging automatic gunfire, adding this took place down the street from the Lukeville Port of Entry.

Two other videos show the incident area, closely resembling the war-ravaged streets in the Middle East. 

In a separate report, NewsNation’s Ali Bradley confirmed the cartel shootout. She said the firefight was so close to the international border that “national guard members” could hear the chaos. 

Here’s more footage. 

The open southern border policy of the Biden administration has significantly benefited Mexican cartels, who are capitalizing on human smuggling and drug trafficking. Spillover risks continue to soar as Biden keeps the border wide open. 

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/31/2023 – 12:15

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden