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Posted on: Feb 04, 2023
“The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and, instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigor of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians.” — Edward Gibbon. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 38 “General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West”
A surge in lab-grown diamonds flooding the market, coupled with a decline in luxury spending, has forced Russian mining giant Alrosa PJSC to temporarily suspend rough diamond sales to prevent prices from crashing further.
Bloomberg obtained a memo from Alrosa addressed to its customers, explaining rough diamond sales for September and October have been suspended as the company "strives to reverse the existing trend of diminishing demand."
Diamonds, watches, and other jewelry soared during the pandemic and peaked in the first half of 2022. We have covered the Rolex boom and bust extensively and have turned our attention to crashing diamond prices in 2023:
For years, green and socially responsible investments, aka ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), have dominated the investing world. However, according to Bloomberg, a seismic shift is underway as BlackRock and other money managers unwound an increasing number of 'green' products amid soaring backlash and investor scrutiny.
Data from Morningstar shows State Street, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Janus Henderson Group, and Hartford Funds Management Group have unwound more than two dozen ESG funds this year. The latest unwind comes from BlackRock, who told regulators last Friday it plans to close two ESG emerging-market bond funds with total assets of $55 million.
Jacinda Ardern may no longer be Prime Minister of New Zealand, but she was back at the United Nations continuing her call for international censorship. Ardern is now one of the leading anti-free speech figures in the world and continues to draw support from political and academic establishments. In her latest attack on free speech, Ardean declared free speech as a virtual weapon of war. She is demanding that the world join her in battling free speech as part of its own war against “misinformation” and “disinformation.” Her views, of course, were not only enthusiastically embraced by authoritarian countries, but the government and academic elite.
In her speech, she notes that we cannot allow free speech to get in the way of fighting things like climate change. She notes that they cannot win the war on climate change if people do not believe them about the underlying problem. The solution is to silence those with opposing views. It is that simple.
The Seattle City Council on Tuesday ruled that public drug use will soon be illegal in the city.
According to KIRO7, public drug use can now end in arrest - though there remains a large effort to funnel drug users into treatment programs.
CB 120645 adds the crimes of using a controlled substance in public space and knowing possession of a controlled substance to the statute's list of crimes. The move follows a Sept. 12 proposed ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council's Public Safety and Human Services Committee by a vote of 4-1.
During the disastrous Vietnam War, it was said that the US government treated the public like a mushroom farm: keeping it in the dark and feeding it with manure. The heroic Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers documenting the unrelenting U.S. government lying about the war in order to protect politicians who would be embarrassed by the truth. A half-century later, during the Ukraine War, the manure is piled even higher.
According to the U.S. government and the ever-obsequious New York Times, the Ukraine war was “unprovoked,” the Times’ favorite adjective to describe the war. Putin, allegedly mistaking himself for Peter the Great, invaded Ukraine to recreate the Russian Empire. Yet last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg committed a Washington gaffe, meaning that he accidently blurted out the truth.
In testimony to the European Union Parliament, Stoltenberg made clear that it was America’s relentless push to enlarge NATO to Ukraine that was the real cause of the war and why it continues today. Here are Stoltenberg’s revealing words:
“The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition to not invade Ukraine. Of course, we didn't sign that.
The opposite happened. He wanted us to sign that promise, never to enlarge NATO. He wanted us to remove our military infrastructure in all Allies that have joined NATO since 1997, meaning half of NATO, all the Central and Eastern Europe, we should remove NATO from that part of our Alliance, introducing some kind of B, or second-class membership. We rejected that.
So, he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite.”
This is surely one of the strangest twists in official narratives in perhaps hundreds of years. The bad guys have been christened as the good guys, and the good guys have been purged, deplatformed, canceled, and demonized.
It’s a turn of events none of us could have imagined back in 2020. It cries out for an explanation. I truly fear knowing the answer as to why.
Just consider the fate of former New Zealand Prime Jacinda Ardern.
She locked down her country, trampling all rights of the people under the guise of controlling the spread of a virus. You could not go to church. You could not be unmasked. You could not leave the country and return. No one could travel there without official permission.
As bad as the United States and Europe were during this period, New Zealand was worse, and it was backed up by speech controls. Anyone protesting the policies was risking everything. And when the vaccine came along, Ardern outright said it: the people who get it will have rights but those who do not will not. It was a new biomedical caste system.
Eventually, the country did open. Now speakers decrying the whole period are attracting audiences in the thousands, and Ardern is widely unpopular. Her successor who continues to defend all this despotism is under a cloud and also deeply unpopular. The tables have completely turned. Of course the virus came anyway, as it must, so the junta that did this has turned their attention to climate change, the defense of censorship, and the escalation of the Russia/Ukraine war.
Five years ago, anyone would have supposed that a leader that acted this way would live in shame. I certainly assumed so. My supposition is that Ardern had made horrific misjudgments and would be widely decried as a confused tyrant. She would live out her days in disrepute, surely.
The four-star general in charge of the US Air Force’s Air Mobility Command has defended a memo he sent to his officers earlier this year where he predicted the US would be at war with China in 2025.
“My assessment is that war is not inevitable, but the readiness I’m driving with that timeline is absolutely essential to deterrence and absolutely essential to the decisive victory,” Gen. Mike Minihan said last week when asked about his prediction, according to Defense One.
“There needs to be tension on readiness, more than just ‘be ready tonight.’ You need to have readiness that drives urgency. The urgency and the action are paramount,” he added.
Minihan noted that the memo, dated February 1, included the words: “I hope I am wrong.” But the memo to his officers ordered them to be prepared for a fight with China, and while the Pentagon distanced itself from Minihan’s timeline, the US is openly preparing for a direct war with China by building up its forces in the Asia Pacific and increasing military support for Taiwan.
The arms package is worth $325 million and uses the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which allows Biden to ship arms directly from US military stockpiles. The $325 million is being pulled from funds that became available after the Pentagon said it overvalued previous arms shipments to Ukraine, an “accounting error” that freed up an additional $6.2 billion in PDA to fuel the war.
The cluster bombs, known as dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM), are provided in the form of 155mm artillery rounds, which spread small sub-munitions over a large area. The arms package also includes air defense systems, HIMARS ammunition, other artillery rounds, and other equipment.
When announcing the arms package, President Biden said the first batch of Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine next week. The tanks will be armed with depleted uranium rounds, a toxic ammunition linked to cancer and birth defects.
Pizza Hut Australia is sending data breach notifications to customers, warning that a cyberattack allowed hackers to access their personal information.
The notification warns that the hacker gained unauthorized access to Pizza Hut Australia systems storing sensitive info for customers who made online orders, as well as partial financial data and encrypted account passwords.
Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a new federal office of gun violence prevention, the White House said Thursday.
President Joe Biden will formally announce the new office Friday during a Rose Garden event where several advocates and lawmakers have been invited to attend.
Harris, who has played a leading role in gun safety policy, will oversee the office, according to a White House statement. Longtime Biden aide Stefanie Feldman, who has worked on gun policy for more than a decade, will serve as its director.
“The new Office of Gun Violence Prevention will play a critical role in implementing President Biden’s and my efforts to reduce violence to the fullest extent under the law, while also engaging and encouraging Congressional leaders, state and local leaders, and advocates to come together to build upon the meaningful progress that we have made to save lives,” the vice president said in a statement.
Apple released emergency security updates to patch three new zero-day vulnerabilities exploited in attacks targeting iPhone and Mac users, for a total of 16 zero-days fixed this year.
Two bugs were found in the WebKit browser engine (CVE-2023-41993) and the Security framework (CVE-2023-41991), enabling attackers to bypass signature validation using malicious apps or gain arbitrary code execution via maliciously crafted webpages.
The third one was found in the Kernel Framework, which provides APIs and support for kernel extensions and kernel-resident device drivers. Local attackers can exploit this flaw (CVE-2023-41992) to escalate privileges.
Democrat Senator John Fetterman on Thursday got choked up as he recounted being bullied for struggling to process language after his massive stroke in May 2022.
Fetterman spoke at a Senate Special Committee on Aging and was accompanied by people with disabilities.
John Fetterman got choked up as he recounted being bullied for his post-stroke symptoms. Fetterman is not a civilian struggling to recover from a stroke. He is a US Senator who is making decisions for hundreds of millions of people. Any criticism of his inability to speak is warranted.
One week ago, when previewing the three events that are about to slam US GDP in the tail end of the 3rd and the 3th quarter (including the return of student loan payments, the UAW strike and the government shutdown), Goldman calculated that reduced auto production from a potential UAW strike would reduce quarterly annualized growth by 0.05-0.10% for each week it lasted, if all three companies currently undergoing contract negotiations are impacted. "Those three companies—Ford, GM, and Stellantis—produce almost half of domestically-assembled cars. Auto production would likely fall sharply—we assume to roughly zero—at any company impacted by a strike", Goldman said in its 30,000 approximation of the impact..
Update(12:20ET): With Zelensky in Capitol Hill, and with Ukraine aid hanging in the balance, Kevin McCarthy has failed for a second time to advance a bill funding the Defense Department, which keeps the government on a path toward a shutdown on Oct. 1. This tweet by Mitch McConnell captures the essence of the raging disagreement and debate...
Politico has reported secret, urgent cross-aisle talks as follows: "Small groups of centrist Democrats are holding secret talks with several of McCarthy’s close GOP allies about a last-ditch deal to fund the government, according to more than a half-dozen people familiar with the discussions."
The House voted 212-216 against moving the funding bill to a final vote: Axios
In October 2020, Twitter locked The Post's account over the revelation of Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop, and on Facebook, stories linking to the Post's story were also blocked by the tech giants. The move came after The Post refused Twitter’s demand that it delete six tweets that linked to laptop-related stories that the Twitter claimed — without any evidence — were based on "hacked information", the Post said.
Major newspapers, mostly left-leaning, refused to report on the laptop, many using the letter as "proof" the laptop was fake. A year and a half after the Post broke the story, the Times says it had "authenticated" the messages it previously deemed suspect.
In September 2022, nearly two years after the news of the laptop broke, a Rasmussen Reports poll found that 63% of American voters believed the story was important, and 44% believed it was “very important.”
On Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the creation of the Homeland Intelligence Experts Group, which includes "private sector experts who will provide their unique perspectives on the federal government’s intelligence enterprise to DHS’s [Intelligence and Analysis] and the Office of the Counterterrorism Coordinator."
President Biden's expected new weapons package being announced when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Washington on Thursday is expected to have more internationally-banned munitions, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Sources told Reuters that the package will be worth $325 million and is expected to include the second tranche of widely-banned cluster bombs in the form of 155mm artillery shells. The US began providing Ukraine with cluster munitions in July despite their history of killing and maiming civilians.
Ovidio Guzmán López is currently in a Chicago lockup awaiting trial on drug-smuggling charges after his extradition last week.
His father, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, infamous founder of the Sinaloa cartel, is already serving a life sentence at a federal supermax prison in Colorado.
Back in Mexico, of course, organized crime continues to wreak havoc.
But how many people are on the payrolls of the Mexican cartels?
Now researchers have come up with an estimate: 175,000. That figure, which would make the cartels the country’s fifth-largest employer, has steadily risen during the last decade, according to their study, which was published Thursday in the journal Science and relied on a variety of data to build a mathematical model of the workforce.
A brewing tropical storm is threatening to hit the East Coast with strong winds and life-threatening storm surges which could cause torrential rain and flash flooding.
It has been named Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 and is expected to become a tropical storm as it approaches the coast of North Carolina from Friday.
The storm, which has formed off the Florida coast, will be dubbed Ophelia once it is found to have wind speeds of at least 39 miles per hour.
A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) for areas including Cape Fear, Albemarle and Pamlico Sound in North Carolina as well as southern Delaware, southeastern Virginia and parts of Chesapeake Bay.
Residents in these areas have been told to follow the advice given by local officials while the warning is in place.
The Biden Administration announced that it will be giving nearly half a million Venezuelans already living in the United States temporary residence and work permits.
On Wednesday, the U.S. government announced that it will allow at least 472,000 Venezuelans to remain in the United States and work legally for 18 months due to growing instability and unsafe conditions in Venezuela.
Webmaster addition: Instability and unsafe conditions? Sounds like the present day in the US!
In his first interview since his recent acquittal in an impeachment trial, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sat down with Tucker Carlson and made some startling revelations.
Paxton implicated the Biden administration in his impeachment proceedings, stating that two of the four lawyers involved in the investigation were from the Department of Justice in Washington.
"There were two of the four House investigating lawyers that worked at the Department of Justice in Washington. That’s not random," Paxton stated. He further explained that the House investigating committee comprised five members, three Republicans and two Democrats. "And they hired, I think it was four lawyers. Two of them came from the Biden DOJ. That’s not an accident. They were sent there."
During a Sunday appearance on Face the Nation to plug his new Zelensky movie, actor Sean Penn decried the “cowardice” of the US government in its caution around provoking a nuclear exchange with its proxy warfare in Ukraine.
“It is my absolute feeling that the caution with which the United States has pledged support, which seemed, in my reading of February 2022 was a, like a lean on in the fear of nuclear conflict, something I think all of us should look very carefully at and understand that, of course, is possible,” Penn said.
“And that’s to be concerning. The likelihood is extremely low. And as one of our witnesses in the film says, you know, are we going to let a gangster with nuclear weapons dictate the way we live?”
Penn emotionally lamented the fact that the Biden administration did not pour F-16 warplanes into Ukraine from the very beginning of the conflict, initially fearing the move to be too escalatory. Describing this hesitation, Penn said that “at some point, caution becomes cowardice.”
As you might expect, the interviewer refrained from challenging Penn on his claim that the likelihood of nuclear war is “extremely low” in spite of his acknowledgement that it’s a real possibility, or on his claim that resisting increasing the likelihood of nuclear war is an act of cowardice.
The dam is breaking on unified Western support for Ukraine, and the timing couldn't be worse for Zelensky, given tomorrow he's expected to meet with President Biden at the White House. On Wednesday evening there is monumental news out of Poland which could potentially change the entire course of the war.
"Poland will no longer arm Ukraine to focus on its own defense," Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced just hours after Warsaw summoned Ukraine's ambassador related to a fresh war of words and spat over blocked grain, according to the AFP. Warsaw has throughout more than a year-and-a-half of the Ukraine-Russia war been Kiev's staunchest and most outspoken supporter.
Will this massive and hugely significant about-face mark the beginning of the end? Are peace negotiations and ceding of territory in the Donbas inevitable at this point?
Poland will no longer arm Ukraine to focus on its own defence, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Wednesday, a few hours after Warsaw summoned Kyiv’s ambassador amid a row over grain exports.
To quote Andrei Martyanov, WOWSER! Remember the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine in the early hours of 6 June 2023, which caused extensive flooding along the lower Dnieper river? This is worse. This may explain the “Grumpy Gus” visage adorning Zelensky, his crew, as well as John Kerry and Antony Blinken yesterday at the UN General Assembly during Biden’s awful speech.
Following a long investigation into Covid mRNA shots, a Canadian watchdog has warned that the injections are “neither safe nor effective.”
The Big Pharma vaccines are unsafe because they bypassed all the normal safety checks, Canadian accountability watchdog group National Citizens Inquiry (NCI) has warned.
NCI published a scathing report on September 14 detailing the corrupt process by which Big Pharma received approval for the experimental mRNA shots in Canada.
“It is important to understand that the COVID-19 vaccines were never approved under the traditional approval process for drugs in Canada,” the report warns, further explaining how Health Canada, the federal agency responsible for Canadian health policy, used a shady authorization process called an interim order instead.
“Under the alternative authorization process, the necessity to establish the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines through an objective manner appears to have been set aside.”
We are seeing the classic signs of the growing discontent within some key sectors of the military and intelligence bureaucracy over the Biden policy towards Ukraine (I will touch on those in a minute), but the Biden national security team continues to stridently insist insist it will back Ukraine to the bitter end. However, despite the tough talk, Biden continues to balk on sending some weapon systems that could transform the Special Military Operation into a full blown war with Russia.
I am posting the video of Jake Sullivan’s press conference today on Biden’s meeting with Zelensky to illustrate this point. It lasts about 30 minutes and is worth listening to both for what is said and what is not.