Please share this page on social media!
"Alone among all of Earth's life forms, humans alone perceive the absolute inevitability of their own mortality. For thousands of years, con artists have exploited that fear of the inevitable end of life, offering for sale various magical escapes from the grave, and all the acolytes have to do is surrender their money, their obedience, and their sanity." -- Michael Rivero
President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced a debt limit deal Saturday, with a vote expected Wednesday in the House of Representatives.
Heritage Foundation experts scrutinized the text of the 99-page bill, including provisions related to spending, pro-growth policies, student loan cancellation, and work requirements for welfare. The following is their latest analysis of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Early in the year, The Heritage Foundation called for total base discretionary spending to return to fiscal 2022 levels—a cut from current levels of around $130 billion. Whereas the House Republicans’ Limit, Save, Grow Act hit that mark, the Fiscal Responsibility Act would only cut discretionary spending by $12 billion in fiscal 2024—only 9% of what Limit, Save, Grow offered.
Under the hood, the bill would cut non-Veterans Affairs, non-defense discretionary spending by $40 billion and get those accounts down, roughly, to fiscal 2022 levels. However, it would spare VA funding and increase defense funding by $28 billion, leaving the total cut at only $12 billion.
Additionally, the bill would rescind only $28 billion in COVID money and $1.4 billion in IRS funds, far short of the roughly $50 billion in COVID and $70 billion in IRS money rescinded under Limit, Save, Grow. Worse, $22 billion of the $28 billion is made available to Democrats to spend through a single fund at the Department of Commerce.
The digital ID rollout is accelerating with little attention and not enough pushback. The European Commission has set aside €46 million (about $49 million) for the controversial European digital identity wallet, an upcoming smartphone app that will allow citizens of all 27 member states of the EU to store and share a digital ID. The money will be invested in pilot programs.
The wallet could be used for presenting travel credentials, registering a SIM card, opening a bank account, and accessing services like social benefits.
The for pilot projects will involve 250 public and private organizations in almost all member states, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Ukraine, and will run for a minimum of two years, Biometric Update reported.
The projects are supposed to help member states prepare for the European Digital Identity Regulation, which is currently being discussed in parliament. The projects will also put the bloc a step closer to achieving its goal of providing all citizens with a digital ID by 2030.
Some, however, have expressed security concerns with the project, arguing that storing so much data in one system would attract cyber attackers.
The quest to develop and refine technologically advanced means to commit mass homicide continues on, with Pentagon tacticians ever eager to make the military leaner and more lethal. Drone swarms already exist, and as insect-facsimile drones are marketed and produced, we can expect bug drone swarms to appear soon in the skies above places where suspected “bad guys” are said to reside—along with their families and neighbors. Following the usual trajectory, it is only a matter of time before surveillance bug drones are “upgraded” for combat, making it easier than ever to kill human beings by whoever wishes to do so, whether military personnel, factional terrorists, or apolitical criminals. The development of increasingly lethal and “creative” means to commit homicide forges ahead not because anyone needs it but because it is generously funded by the U.S. Congress under the assumption that anything labeled a tool of “national defense” is, by definition, good.
To some there may seem to be merits to the argument from necessity for drones, given the ongoing military recruitment crisis. There are many good reasons why people wish not to enlist in the military anymore, but rather than review the missteps taken and counterproductive measures implemented in the name of defense throughout the twenty-first century, administrators ignore the most obvious answer to the question why young people are less enthusiastic than ever before to sign their lives away. Why did the Global War on Terror spread from Afghanistan and Iraq to engulf other countries as well? Critics have offered persuasive answers to this question, above all, that killing, torturing, maiming, and terrorizing innocent people led to an outpouring of sympathy for groups willing to resist the invaders of their lands. As a direct consequence of U.S. military intervention, Al Qaeda franchises such as ISIS emerged, proliferated, and spread. Yet the military plows ahead undeterred in its professed mission to eliminate “the bad guys,” with the killers either oblivious or somehow unaware that they are the primary creators of “the bad guys.”
North Korea announced its plans to launch its first-ever military spy satellite – giving a lift for some South Korean and Japanese defense stocks.
North Korean military official Ri Pyong Chol said in a Monday statement that Pyongyang plans to launch a satellite with the aim to track “dangerous” actions by the U.S., pointing to its recent joint military drills taking with South Korea.
North Korea claimed the event “fully proves how the enemy is making preparations for the military act of aggression on the DPRK,” referring to its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Ri said the satellite — scheduled to be launched in June — will be “indispensable to tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts of the U.S. and its vassal forces openly revealing their reckless ambition for aggression.”
Target's share prices continued to plummet for an eighth-straight day Tuesday as the retailer faces its biggest losing streak in five years.
Shares fell 3.66 percent on Tuesday, resulting in the once-popular retail store losing a whopping $2.4billion in market capitalization amid widespread backlash to its Pride display, which included 'tuck-friendly' women's swimwear.
Tuesday's losses put the stock on its longest losing streak since November 2018, according to FOX Business, with shares at a 52-week low of $133.88 — down nearly 15 percent over the month.
In total, Target's market value fell over $12billion to $61.85billion as of Tuesday's closing. That is a stark difference from earlier in the month, when its market value was over $74billion.
In 2023, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on nearly every significant policy issue. But there is an exception to the rule. Both parties can always agree on sending more money to defense contractors.
The agreement between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to raise the debt limit for two years, if approved by the House and Senate, will avert a potential economic catastrophe. Biden started off demanding a "clean" debt limit increase with no extraneous provisions. McCarthy sought deep cuts in domestic discretionary spending and large increases in military spending in exchange for raising the debt limit.
The compromise, reached Sunday, includes a small decrease in domestic discretionary spending and a record $886 billion for defense, a 3.3% increase over the current year. The money allocated for the defense budget is exactly what Biden requested in the 2024 budget. Notably, about half of that money will go to defense contractors.
In 2015, the United States spent $585 billion on its military. The United States has added more than $300 billion in military spending in less than a decade. (Had military spending kept pace with inflation, military spending would still be less than $700 billion annually.) Biden has added nearly $150 billion to the military budget since 2021, the last budget approved by President Trump. The budget of the Pentagon now exceeds "the budgets for the next ten largest cabinet agencies combined." In 2020, Lockheed Martin received $75 billion in government contracts, more than 1.5 times the budget of the entire State Department.
Last year, the United States spent more on its military than the next 10 highest-spending countries combined:
As NATO looms ever larger as a major actor in global affairs in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the lack of transparency that characterizes its long-range military planning processes poses a serious challenge to democratic oversight.
That observation applies in particular to the regular tri-annual meetings of NATO’s most senior generals, the Chiefs of Defence, or CHODs. The latest of these meetings, in a format known as the NATO Military Committee, took place on May 10 in Brussels. While media coverage was marginally better than usual — see, for example, this Reuters article —concerns remain that member countries’ parliamentarians and publics are being kept in the dark about one of the most opaque but consequential processes within NATO.
At the Vilnius Summit in July, NATO’s political leaders will be asked to approve thousands of pages of secret military plans that will detail for the first time since the Cold War how the alliance would respond to a Russian attack. Most of these plans were drawn up behind closed doors by the permanent Military Representatives at NATO headquarters in Brussels and other NATO and national defense officials, without any prior scrutiny by parliamentary bodies and independent experts.
Russian authorities said Tuesday that eight Ukrainian drones targeted civilian areas of Moscow, marking the largest attack on the capital city since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last year.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the drones only caused “insignificant damage” to residential buildings and that two people were treated for minor injuries but didn’t need to be hospitalized. The Russian Defense Ministry said five of the drones were shot down, and three were downed using electronic warfare capabilities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the drone attack was an attempt by Ukraine to intimate Russian civilians. The attack came as Russia has stepped up its bombardment of Ukraine, and Putin suggested it was a response to a Russia targeting Ukraine’s military intelligence headquarters a few days earlier.
Ukrainian covert attacks have increased inside Russia in recent months. Kyiv does not officially take credit for the operations, but Ukrainian officials strongly hint at their involvement.
NOT LONG AFTER the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration launched what it called the Office of Strategic Influence, which would seek to “counter the enemy’s perception management” in the so-called war on terror. But it quickly became clear that the office, operating under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, would be managing those perceptions with its own disinformation.
As the New York Times reported at the time, its work was to “provide news items, possibly including false ones, to foreign journalists in an effort to influence overseas opinion.” In the nascent Internet age, observers worried the propaganda could boomerang back on Americans.
“The question is whether the Pentagon and military should undertake an official program that uses disinformation to shape perceptions abroad,” the Times reported in 2004. “But in a modern world wired by satellite television and the Internet, any misleading information and falsehoods could easily be repeated by American news outlets.”
Now, two decades later, “perception management” is once again becoming a central focus for the national security state. On March 1, 2022, the Pentagon established a new office with similar goals to the one once deemed too controversial to remain open. Very little has been made public about the effort, which The Intercept learned about through a review of budget documents and an internal memo we obtained. This iteration is called the Influence and Perception Management Office, or IPMO, according to the memo, which was produced by the office for an academic institution, and its responsibilities include overseeing and coordinating the various counter-disinformation efforts being conducted by the military, which can include the U.S.’s own propaganda abroad.
Add the Old Navy store in downtown San Francisco to the ever-expanding list of retail stores closing up shop this year. So far, Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th, Anthropologie, Coco Republic, Whole Foods, T-Mobile, and a slew of other retail shops have shuttered operations in the crime-ridden progressive-run city because officials are failing to enforce law and order, which has led to a massive surge in thefts.
According to NBC Bay Area, Old Navy's parent company Gap Inc. wrote in a statement that its store, located at 801 Market Street, will close its doors on July 1. The company is attempting to find a new location in the downtown district that "will better serve the needs of the business and our customers."
In other words, the company is relocating from the Market Street location because of out-of-control crime. The other retailers we noted above have specifically mentioned crime as the leading driver in shuttering downtown operations
If you’ve been following our reporting on the issue, you’ll already know that the new World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic prevention initiative, the Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET), recommends using “social listening surveillance systems” to identify “misinformation.” But as more people are learning about how unelected bodies are being used to suppress speech and potentially override sovereignty, it’s starting to get more pushback.
According to documents from the UN agency, PRET aims to “guide countries in pandemic planning” and work to “incorporate the latest tools and approaches for shared learning and collective action established during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The PRET document describes misinformation as a “health threat,” and refers to it as an “infodemic.”
“Infodemic is the overabundance of information – accurate or not – which makes it difficult for individuals to adopt behaviors that will protect their health and the health of their families and communities. The infodemic can directly impact health, hamper the implementation of public health countermeasures and undermine trust and social cohesiveness,” the document states.
If I wrote that we’re living in a world that bears an ever-increasing similarity to Communist regimes throughout history, a lot of people would scoff and say that I was being melodramatic. But research compiled by the Media Research Center and shared on social media by The Heritage Foundation shows, through documents acquired via the FOIA, that the Biden administration is using tax dollars to actively target political opponents and dissenters as potential domestic terrorists in a program with the acronym TVTP.
It’s an important read, and the supporting documents that follow the money are all here in this PDF. (I originally came across this information on a very interesting episode of Dan Bongino’s podcast.)
So, by definition, are you an extremist? A budding domestic terrorist? A violent threat?
Some 32 hospitals across the Sudanese capital of Khartoum have been seized and turned into military bases by both the army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries in their ongoing conflict, an international medical organisation said Monday.
Three doctors have also been kidnapped in Khartoum while one has been killed, Medecins du Monde said, without specifying who the perpetrators were.
Attacks on medical sites could amount to potential war crimes, according to legal observers.
The World Health Organisation has called the use of hospitals as military infrastructure "a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law" that "must stop now".
Last week, deadly clashes broke out between Afghan and Iranian guards at their border raising fears of a new conflict.
Both sides have accused each other of initiating the shooting in which at least two Iranian and one Afghan guard were killed. However, they have issued measured statements aimed at de-escalating the situation.
NATO’s newest member Finland on Monday kicked off military air exercises involving over a dozen countries and a total of 150 aircraft, weeks after the country joined the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The exercise has started today. We currently have the first big rotation underway,” Colonel Henrik Elo from the Finnish Air Force, which hosts the exercise, told AFP.
For nearly two weeks, soldiers and fighter jets from 14 nations, 12 of which are NATO members, will take part in exercises, mainly over Sweden’s northern regions.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog landed in Azerbaijan on Tuesday in the latest stage of a very public evolution of ties between the two countries.
Herzog, who is travelling with his wife, met Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku at the Zugulba presidential palace. Israel's Health and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel also accompanied Herzog.
The visit will see a bilateral agreement signed between Israel and Azerbaijan on cooperation in healthcare. Aliyev announced that the sides were also very actively cooperating in the field of cyber security, without providing further details.
In addition to official meetings, Herzog is expected to attend a festive event dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Israel, and will meet with activists of the local Jewish community.
Israel is planning to bring around 10,000 workers from India to fill positions in the construction and nursing industries, in a sign of deepening economic and political cooperation between Tel Aviv and New Delhi.
According to Hebrew news outlets, the workers will arrive in stages, with half destined for the construction sector and the remaining half designated for nursing roles.
At least 5,000 workers are due in the first year. The final labor agreement is still being negotiated between Israeli and Indian officials.
A spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Population and Immigration said they expect the agreements to be approved soon “in a proper and supervised manner.”
A few minutes after the Israeli parliament approved the budget for the next two years, a triumphant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to announce: "It's a great day for the people of Israel."
It is not. It might be a great day for Netanyahu himself; it's certainly a very bad day for most Israelis. The money allocations - 484bn shekels ($130.4bn), in 2023, 514bn shekels in 2024) solidify an ultra-nationalistic, orthodox Israel, forsaking even the appearance of social justice. Unless, of course, you consider food stamps for members of the ultra-orthodox Shas party social justice in 2023.
About 300 top economists, among them former senior Bank of Israel and Treasury officials, warned in a letter that this kind of budget poses an "existential threat to Israel's future".
Leaders of the Palestinian community within Israel on Monday set up a "protest tent" in front of the government buildings in West Jerusalem to press authorities to address an escalating crime wave.
The protest, set to last three days, comes as scores of Palestinians in Israel have been killed in crime-related incidents this year.
The Palestinian community within the 1948 borders that compose the state of Israel are mainly those who were able to remain despite the ethnic cleansing by Zionist forces during the Nakba.
Muhammad Barakeh, a former Knesset member and leader of the Arab follow-up committee in Israel, said a series of actions are planned soon to pressure the government to tackle crime within Palestinian communities, which make up more than 20 per cent of Israel's population.
This week we saw a major tectonic shift in economic world power and Putin and China just scored another devastating blow to the West. More than 30 countries are asking to join the BRICS collation and move away from the U.S. dollar.
There’s hardly a shortage of Russophobia in the political West, whether it’s the previously latent one or the much more blatant hatred demonstrated in recent times. In most countries dominated by the United States this has become the “new normal” since February 24, 2022. However, of all Washington DC’s allies and satellite states/vassals, there’s one that makes even such endemically Russophobic countries like Poland or the Baltic states seem “moderate” – the United Kingdom.
In recent announcements, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that it could completely cut diplomatic ties with the UK over its extremely escalatory actions such as the delivery of ever more advanced and longer-range weapons to the Kiev regime. In a statement for Russia’s RT, published on Friday, the Russian MFA cited London’s significant and ever-growing meddling in Ukraine, as well as other actions aimed against Russia, particularly when it comes to arming and directly assisting the Neo-Nazi junta forces. Although the MFA stated that cutting ties with the UK might be an “extreme measure”, it was left without virtually any other option, so this move is being considered very seriously.
“The severing of diplomatic ties with the UK would be an ‘extreme measure’, but [Russia] could end up taking the step considering London’s significant involvement in the Ukraine conflict,” the Russian MFA warned on Friday.
The human cost of El Salvador’s controversial “war on gangs” has been laid bare in a new report which claims dozens of prisoners were tortured and killed in jail after being caught up in the year-long security crackdown.
The detailed 107-page report from human rights group Cristosal said at least 153 people had died in custody after being arrested as part of President Nayib Bukele’s year-long offensive against the Central American country’s notorious “pandillas”.
The NGO said it had confirmed 29 of those fatalities as violent deaths and another 46 were considered suspicious. In most of those 75 cases, Cristosal said the bodies of the victims showed signs of torture, beatings or strangulation. Other dead inmates also showed signs of injuries but were classified as having died of “undetermined” or “natural” causes meaning the true number of violent deaths could be higher.
Colombia and Venezuela have reached an agreement to search for remains of victims who were killed by paramilitaries during Colombia's internal armed conflict and reportedly buried in Venezuela, Colombia President Gustavo Petro said on Tuesday.
The agreement follows recent confessions before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal by former paramilitary commander Salvatore Mancuso, Petro said.
The JEP was created under a 2016 peace deal with the now demobilized FARC rebel group to try former combatants and members of the military.
"We’re going to do all the work we can with our body identifying experts. Colombia has history in this, experience,” Petro told journalists on the sidelines of a summit of Latin American presidents in Brazil's capital, Brasilia.
"If Mancuso manages to find those areas, if there really re bodies there, the Venezuelan state could help us return the remains to their families," Petro added.
When senior European and American officials descend on this small, industrial Scandinavian city Tuesday, there’s much they will agree on. They’ll agree on pushing back against foreign interference. They’ll agree on more sustainable trade commitments. They’ll agree on new guardrails around artificial intelligence.
But the one thorny issue they still don’t agree on is the most fundamental to the transatlantic relationship: What to do about China.
With the likes of Valdis Dombrovskis, the European trade commissioner, and Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, jetting in to Swedish Arctic Circle for the twice-yearly meeting of the EU-U.S. Trade and Tech Council, Washington and Brussels are still at loggerheads over how aggressively to push back against China’s rise in everything from global trade to semiconductors to the latest global cause célèbre, generative AI.
Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on "the immediate start of upgrading diplomatic relations, exchanging ambassadors," Egypt's presidency said in a statement on Monday.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine committed to respect five principles laid out by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi on Tuesday to try to safeguard Ukraine's Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Grossi, who spoke at the U.N. Security Council, has tried for months to craft an agreement to reduce the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident from military activity like shelling at Europe's biggest nuclear power plant.
His five principles included that there should be no attack on or from the plant and that no heavy weapons such as multiple rocket launchers, artillery systems and munitions, and tanks or military personnel be housed there.
Russia has given passports to almost 1.5 million people living in the annexed parts of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions since last October, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday.
Moscow claimed the four Ukrainian regions as its own last September, seven months after it launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour. It does not fully control any of the regions, and the annexations are not recognised internationally.
"Since last October, almost 1.5 million people from the new regions have received a Russian passport," Mishustin told a government meeting. Russian officials call the four territories "the new regions".
Mishustin said some 1.6 million people in the regions were receiving pensions and about 1.5 million were receiving social benefits.
Ukraine is seeking guarantees from Moscow and the U.N. that a deal on the safe export of Black Sea grain will work normally if Kyiv allows Russian ammonia to transit Ukrainian territory, a Ukrainian official said on Tuesday.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative between Moscow and Kyiv last July to help tackle a global food crisis aggravated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a leading global grain exporter.
Russia agreed to a two-month extension of the deal this month but has said the initiative will cease unless an agreement aimed at overcoming obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports is fulfilled.
In a recent announcement, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed the launch of a webpage designed to address and curtail what it says is the spread of misinformation related to health and medical topics online. This initiative, known as the “Rumor Control” page invites users to report instances of perceived misinformation on the internet, particularly on social media platforms.