Thought for the day

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have given way to permanent crisis management: to policing the planet and fighting preventative wars of ideological containment, usually on terrain chosen by, and favorable to, our enemies. Limited government and constitutional accountability have been shouldered aside by the kind of imperial presidency our constitutional system was explicitly designed to prevent." -- David C. Unger, The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs

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Amid a two-month court battle which saw a federal judge side with a group of US Marines over the right to refuse the Covid-19 vaccine based on religious objections, the US Marine Corps has quietly dropped strict punishments for service members who are seeking exemptions.

A Sept. 14 notice reads that the "Marine Corps will not enforce any order to accept COVID-19 vaccination, administratively separate, or retaliate against Marines in the class for asserting statutory rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act."

The guidance references the temporary order blocking the Marines from taking action against individuals seeking a religious exemption.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:31

The world’s billionaires - only 3,311 individuals - represent almost $11.8 trillion in wealth.

As Visual Capitalist's Avery Koop details below, the global billionaire population continued to grow in 2021, increasing by 3%. Over the same period, billionaire wealth also increased by 18%.

This map uses data from the Wealth-X Billionaire Census to visualize where the world’s billionaires live and breaks down their collective wealth.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:30

Eritrea is mobilising armed forces due to the re-eruption of the conflict in northern Ethiopia, the Canadian government said on Saturday, raising fears that the fighting may intensify in a war that has already displaced millions and triggered a humanitarian disaster across northern Ethiopia.

"Local authorities have issued a general call for mobilization of armed forces in response to the conflict in northern #Ethiopia," said a Canadian travel advice tweet.

The Canadian government urged its citizens in Eritrea to limit their movements and monitor local media. It was not clear from the statement if Canada believed Eritrea was mobilising forces for offensive or defensive purposes.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel and Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:29

Thousands in Haiti faced are facing water shortages after days of protest virtually halted distribution, witnesses said.

An approaching storm was causing more worry in the Caribbean country on Saturday.

Many residents of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince have been forced to shelter at home this week as gunfire broke out and burning tires blocked streets during protests over fuel price hikes and crime.

The unrest slowed or halted companies that typically deliver water in the city where daily high temperatures have been hitting 34 degrees Celcius (93 Fahrenheit).

Posted on: Sep 19 07:28

Russian President Vladimir Putin held telephone talks with the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan following clashes on the border of the Central Asian republics, the Kremlin said on Sunday.

"Vladimir Putin urged the sides to prevent further escalation and to take measures to resolve the situation exclusively by peaceful, political and diplomatic means as soon as possible, and confirmed Russia's readiness to provide the necessary assistance to ensure stability in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border region."

Posted on: Sep 19 07:27

Local leaders in Leicester have called for calm after police were deployed onto the streets of the English city following weekend confrontations between crowds of young men primarily from Hindu and Muslim communities.

The latest incident broke out on Saturday and into Sunday, with police responding to hold back crowds that flared up after "an unplanned protest", the BBC reported. It was unclear what sparked the protest.

Image removed.

Police said that most of those involved were in their late teens and early 20s. In a statement on Monday, Leicestershire Police said they had put in place a temporary cordon "to minimise harm and disturbance to communities".

Fifteen people were arrested on Sunday and remain in police custody, according to the statement.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:27

The 'tentative' deal Joe Biden brokered between US freight rail firms and unions in the hopes of avoiding a massive economic disruption is at risk of collapsing.

Though the deal agreed to raise rail employees' salaries by 24 percent over five years and gave up to $11,000 in bonuses, union leaders said it remains 'intentionally' vague about sick leave and other days off. 

Organizer for Railroad Workers United, Ron Kaminkow, said the average rail worker felt 'a lot of anger, confusion and hostility' towards the deal. 

The average rail worker put it more bluntly: 'Workers are pissed off and this time we actually have a lot of leverage,' said one locomotive engineer, according to The Hill, 'I know I'm not going to accept anything less than what we deserve.'

Rail workers are scheduled to vote on the deal this Thursday, but if just one of the 12 railroad unions votes against the deal thousands of workers could go on strike and bring commerce to a halt across North America.

Last week's deal only addressed terms put forth by the industry's two largest union groups - the Brotherhood Of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and SMART - and did not meet all of the demands made of other groups.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:25

Before we dive into this, it’s important to understand nitrogen and its role on Earth. The air human beings breathe is 78% nitrogen, 22% oxygen and 1% other stuff. Humans have been breathing nitrogen throughout their existence on Earth. Most nitrogen in Earth atmosphere is N2 molecules, which are mostly inert (chemically non-reactive). Nitrogen oxides, such as ammonia (NH3) and nitric oxide (NO) are the “bad” nitrogens that climate change people say will kill us all. But not having food will kill us all much quicker.

Nitrogen oxides are facts of life on Earth. Nitrous oxide (N2O), aka “laughing gas” and “whippets,” is the third-most abundant nitrogen oxide in the air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Natural sources of N2O, including the oceans and ground soil under natural vegetation, account for 62% of all N2O. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) are the two most prevalent nitrogen oxides. Most NO2 comes from tobacco smoke, stoves and heaters. The primary sources of NO are fossil fuel combustion and adding fertilizers to soil.

It’s true that the largest human contribution of nitrogen oxides is agriculture. But a 2017 study by the University of Virginia and The Organic Center found that organic farming (i.e. using manure and compost for fertilizer and no chemical pesticides) reduces new reactive nitrogen emissions by 64% versus “conventional” farming.

Yet less than 1% of U.S. farmland and only 4% of Dutch farmland is certified organic. Meanwhile giant corporations – Monsanto/BASF, DuPont/Dow, and Syngenta/ChemChina – make all those poisonous pesticides and own all seeds planted for foods via patents. These three companies control the entire global farming industry.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:24

A member of the Afghanistan Trust Fund, Shah Mohammad Mehrabi, said that $150 Million should be delivered to the markets monthly in Afghanistan to stabilize the Afghan currency.

“Use of this fund should be done for the sole purpose of price stability to defend the value of Afghani. This process can be independently monitored and audited with an option to terminate in the event of misuse. Through this process, purchasing Afghani will increase,” he said.

Mehrabi, who is also member of Da Afghanistan Bank said that the trust fund was established in Swiss banks to preserve the Afghanistan’s Central Bank’s Assets. He said that the fund will go to Afghanistan.

“The $3.5 billion that are set aside for the benefit of Afghan people had to be protected ... and to do so, the fund for Afghan people was established,” Mehrabi said.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:24

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a global food crisis aggravated by the war will be the focus of world leaders when they convene at the United Nations in New York this week, a gathering that is unlikely to yield any progress towards ending the conflict.

“It would be naive to think that we are close to the possibility of a peace deal,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday in advance of the high-level meeting of the 193 member states, which starts on Tuesday.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:23

amnesty gitmo cell interior

President Joe Biden pushed behind the scenes throughout the first year of his administration to close the Guantanamo Bay torture prison, the Wall Street Journal reports. Established in US-occupied Cuba under the George W. Bush presidency, Gitmo has a cruel legacy of America carrying out barbaric interrogation methods on mostly innocent people. 

Set up in January 2002, the prison population is down to 36 from over 800. Each detainee costs American taxpayers about $15 million each year. However, many of the detainees have the US government in legal limbo. If taken to court, the methods used by the CIA’s torture program could become more public. Both Biden and his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, pledged to close the gulag. 

Attempts to close the prison and transfer detainees have been met with persistent hawkish criticisms. Under pressure, Obama ultimately buckled and expanded the prison. To avoid meeting the same fate as his former boss, Biden is attempting a more covert route. However, it is unclear if the current administration will make closing Gitmo enough of a priority to get it done. Biden’s Pentagon is already moving forward with a plan from the Donald Trump administration to build a $4 million courtroom. 

Posted on: Sep 19 07:22

Hungary on Sunday pledged to meet all of its commitments made to the European Commission to unlock European Union funding after the EU executive proposed suspending some 7.5 billion euros for Hungary over corruption.

Development Minister Tibor Navracsics, in charge of negotiations with the EU, said he hoped Hungary's measures would be sufficient to convince the EU Commission that sufficient safeguards will be implemented to protect EU funds.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:21

Corporate media somehow missed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s shocking charge, at his press conference Friday:

"We even see attempts at perpetrating terrorist attacks in the Russian Federation, including – I am not sure if this was made public – attempts to carry out terrorist attacks near our nuclear facilities, nuclear power plants in the Russian Federation. I am not even talking about the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant."

Putin was answering what seemed to be a canned question about Russia’s "restraint" amid, what the questioner called increasing "strikes, raids and acts of terror even on Russian territory. We are hearing all the time very aggressive statements that the final goal of Kiev and the West is Russia’s disintegration. Meanwhile, many think that Russia’s response to all of this is very restrained. Why is that?

Posted on: Sep 19 07:18

Swiss legislators have given final approval for the country’s controversial purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the US, ignoring a successful petition drive that was supposed to force a public vote on the issue.

Switzerland’s lower house National Council voted to approve the $6 billion deal with US defense contractor Lockheed Martin on Thursday. The upper house, the Council of States, had previously approved the purchase of 36 F-35s.

The Swiss government, which received voter approval in 2020 to modernize the country’s fleet of fighter jets at a cost of up to $6.3 billion, reached a preliminary agreement with Lockheed Martin last year after choosing the F-35 over France’s Rafale, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the multinational Eurofighter Typhoon.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:17

Ex-president says he warned Angela Merkel that Berlin’s dependence on Russian energy could lead to a “surrender”

Donald Trump suggested that Germany might soon cease being a country in the face of an escalating oil crisis. 

During a rally in Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday, Trump tore into his successor in the White House, taking aim at Biden’s energy policy and the so-called Green New Deal in particular. Trump claimed that the US was now independent of foreign energy sources and is on its way to becoming an independent country. “totally dominant in energy, bigger than Saudi Arabia and Russia combined,”Joe Biden reduced since the US to “begging for energy.”

Posted on: Sep 19 07:16

Bodies at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut, Sept., 1982.

Palestinian associations prepare the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, Lebanon, committed by Christian militias and the Israeli army between September 16 and 18, 1982.

The attacks on civilians "do not expire with the passage of time and constitute a bloody stain on the history of humanity," Maan Bachour, the coordinator of the civil campaign in support of Palestine in Lebanon, said and demanded compensation for the relatives of the victims.

In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, a country mired in civil war. A few months later, in September, militia members of the right-wing Phalange, in alliance with the Israeli military, raided the Sabra and Shatila camps, killing between 800 and 2,000 people. The final number of victims, however, was never established.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:15

Forty years after Christian militiamen massacred Palestinian refugees and Lebanese nationals in the country's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, the horrors of the tragedy remain seared into survivors' memories.

Najib al-Khatib, whose father and 10 other family members were killed in the massacre, still remembers the stench of corpses.

Najib al-Khatib, 52, indicates a place that was laden with corpses after the Sabra and Shatila massacre 40 years ago

Najib al-Khatib, 52, indicates a place that was laden with corpses after the Sabra and Shatila massacre 40 years ago

(Photo: AFP)

It "lingered for more than five or six months. A horrible smell," the 52-year-old Lebanese survivor said.

"They would spray chemicals every day, but the smell stayed," he said from the Sabra camp for Palestinian refugees, where he lives with his family.

From September 16 to 18, 1982, Christian militiamen allied with Israel are said to have killed between 800 and 2,000 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila camps on Beirut's outskirts. They also murdered at least 100 Lebanese and some Syrians.

Israeli troops, who had invaded in June that year as Lebanon's civil war raged, sealed off the camp while the militiamen went on their killing spree, targeting unarmed civilians.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:08

Fortunately, nobody was injured when a massive sinkhole suddenly opened up in the middle of Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway on Saturday. However, the incident is a sobering reminder of the need for greater safety precautions. Although it is not yet completely clear what caused the sinkhole to appear, it is considered likely to be related to major construction work going on in the area, in which excavation work has diverted subterranean water flow.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:08

The predictable result of the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Kharkiv region was another information attack launched by the Kiev regime. Following the scenario played out in Bucha, the Ukrainian military discovered mass graves of “victims of the Russian occupation” in the city of Izyum.

In another attempt to blame the Russian military for nazism, the Ukrainian media reported on September 15: “The terrible footage are the graves of the victims of the Rashist occupation on the outskirts of Izyum. There are almost no names on the plates anywhere. Apparently, bodies are buried here from under the rubble of bombed houses, which have yet to be identified.” The reports did not mention that the town has been heavily shelled by Ukrainian artillery for about five months.

The very next day, the exhumation of corpses by the Ukrainian authorities began. About 400 bodies were reportedly found at the mass burial sites. Of course, the corpses of civilians and children with signs of torture were reportedly discovered.

The head of the Ukrainian Kharkiv administration, supported the claims: “there are several bodies with their hands tied behind their backs, and one person is buried with a rope around his neck. Obviously, these people were tortured and executed. There are also children among those buried.”

Izyum Massacre Explained

Click to see full-size image

The Izyum massacre was staged just a day after EU chief Ursula von der Leyen visited Ukraine and said in an interview that she wants to see Russian President Vladimir Putin face the International Criminal Court over war crimes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country is in talks with G-7 nations to set up a war crimes tribunal which would investigate and punish Russia and its top officials and military leaders for “war crimes”.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:06

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” — Abraham Lincoln

It’s easy to become discouraged about the state of our nation.

We’re drowning under the weight of too much debt, too many wars, too much power in the hands of a centralized government, too many militarized police, too many laws, too many lobbyists, and generally too much bad news.

It’s harder to believe that change is possible, that the system can be reformed, that politicians can be principled, that courts can be just, that good can overcome evil, and that freedom will prevail.

So where does that leave us?

Posted on: Sep 19 07:04

The possible, even likely, collapse of the European economy would inflict some heavy costs to present European institutions. In this entry, Dr. Peter Nyberg and I detail why we believe we are likely to see some rupturing of the European Union (EU) as originally conceived.

This may occur in two ways: Either the European Union disintegrates completely, or it mutates into something unrecognizable to its original purpose. This comment concentrates on some of the factors causing disintegration.

The functioning of the EU has, until recently, been built on two political pillars that now appear to be crumbling. Primarily, German growth has made possible the joint financing (through low-cost debt, the EU budget, and the central banks’ clearing system) of unsuccessful economies without the EU forcing them to commit to politically unacceptable reforms. Beneficent global developments have made possible the concentration on economic integration while going slow on the much more contentious integration of cultural, social, and foreign policies.

The deterioration of the global economy, together with EU policies, now threaten industry and living standards in EU member states, reduce the scope of joint economic support, and force member states to rapidly evaluate their readiness for possibly radical reductions in their political self-determination. This is most evident in Italy.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:03

The Joe Biden administration rolled out a new assistance agreement with Jordan. Washington will send Amman $10.15 billion over the next seven years. The new deal will make Jordan the third largest recipient of American aid, following only Ukraine and Israel.

The White House signed the new memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Friday. The Biden administration first discussed the new agreement with Jordan on the sidelines of the Jeddah summit in July. The MOU is the largest aid package the US has ever signed with Amman.

Jordanian officials celebrated the aid, and claimed it was essential. "It’s an extremely important MOU. It speaks to the strong friendship the two countries have," foreign minister Ayman Safadi said. He added, "The US has gone above and beyond for Jordan."

Webmaster addition: Boy, they just can't give your money away fast enough!

Posted on: Sep 19 07:02

The Biden administration is hesitant to give Ukraine the longer-range missiles it is asking for as Russia has warned providing such arms would make the US a party to the conflict.

Ukraine has asked the US for Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, which have a range of about 190 miles, significantly farther than anything Washington has provided Kyiv up to this point. The HIMARS rocket launch systems that the US has sent Ukraine are currently equipped with missiles that can hit targets up to 50 miles away.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that President Biden is resisting Ukraine’s calls to send the arms. The report cited senior aides to Biden who said the president was told by the Pentagon that the benefits of sending Ukraine the ATACMS would be minimal, leading him to conclude it wasn’t worth the risk of provoking Moscow.

Posted on: Sep 19 07:01

In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, President Biden said the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, marking the fourth time of his presidency that he’s made the pledge despite the long-standing US policy of strategic ambiguity.

When asked by host Scott Pelley if US forces would defend Taiwan, President Biden said, “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”

Pelley followed up by asking, “So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, US forces, US men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?”

The president replied, “Yes.”

Webmaster addition: Here's your rifle, Joe. And have another for Hunter!

Posted on: Sep 19 07:00

The massive wave of retail thefts in the United States over the past two years have become a major challenge for both the retail industry and law enforcement.

Thieves are seen looting stores at the Grove shopping center in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, Calif., on May 30, 2020. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Weakened law enforcement policies and lesser penalties for these criminal bandit gangs have hit a critical juncture, as crime in the United States has hit proportions not seen in three decades.

The number of increasingly professional organized retail crime (ORC) rings and their frequent attacks have reached crisis scale, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in a Sept. 14 report.

These crimes have hurt thousands of businesses and have contributed to higher prices for consumers and loss of key retailers in many communities, as countless stores have closed to due to lack of security.

“The factors contributing to retail shrink have multiplied in recent years, and organized retail crime is a burgeoning threat within the retail industry,” said Mark Meadows, NRF vice president for research development and industry analysis.

Posted on: Sep 19 06:58

Ron DeSantis’ Immigration Moves Not Limited to Martha’s Vineyard: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been trying to establish himself as a conservative leader on a number of issues. The latest is immigration.

Like other Republican governors, DeSantis is trying to contrast himself with the policies of President Joe Biden. Before inflation, there was no greater flashpoint than immigration

DeSantis wants faraway affluent liberal communities to get a small sense of what the Biden-era migrant surge is doing to border communities. The residents of Martha’s Vineyard are not amused

Posted on: Sep 19 06:57

Many of you reading this are ready for winter, both literally and figuratively. Your firewood is stacked and your kindling is split. Your barn is stacked full of hay. Your larder is crammed full of food. Your fuel tanks are topped off. And your home armory is “dialed-in”, with its walls comfortably stacked with ammo cans.  But some of you reading this are not nearly so well prepared. Whether by lack of resolve or lack of resources, you aren’t ready for the manifold challenges of the 21st Century.

Winter is coming. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that the winter of 2022-2023 will be harsh, for most of the country. And in Western Europe, the winter will surely be an uncomfortable one, since the Russians have embargoed natural gas.

Far worse than the predicted La Niña winter in North America, we are also entering what I term a Societal WinterAn era of rancorous discontent between political factions here in the United States that is replete with iciness, and dismissiveness, by The Powers That Be. With divisive “Woke” rhetoric and plenty of finger-pointing, people are feeling a lot less “United” these days. From my vantage point here in the rural Northern Rockies, it appeared that immediately after Joe Biden and his activist cabinet took office in D.C., the Mainstream Media (MSM) cranked the Acrimony knob all the way up to “11.”  (For those not familiar, the 11 is a reference to the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.)

Posted on: Sep 19 06:56
  • The EU Commission presented an energy crisis emergency plan this week.

  • The plan includes a windfall tax and a framework on capping energy prices in EU member states.

  • The $140 billion windfall tax plan could slow down investment in both oil and gas and renewables.

This week saw the European Commission's President Ursula von der Leyen do something that would have probably been considered the opposite of democracy just a few years ago. She proposed that governments impose a ceiling on certain energy producers' revenues and add a windfall profit for Big Oil majors. Called "a solidarity contribution" or "a crisis contribution," the windfall tax's aim is the same as the aim of the revenue ceiling: manage energy costs in a runaway inflation environment and get some additional money to, according to the plan, distribute among those who most need it.

Like all grand plans, however, unintended consequences abound with this one, and one of the gravest is the discouragement of oil and gas investments at a time when global oil and gas investments are already lower than they should be in light of demand projections.

JP Morgan's head of global energy strategy said it this week in an interview with Bloomberg.

"If you're planning your capital budget, you have to think twice now that you have a new risk," Malek told Bloomberg.

"It encourages majors to return cash to shareholders as they use that free cashflow that could have been used in investment."

Posted on: Sep 19 06:55

A German bakery was slapped with a €330,000 (US$330,000) gas bill after a new energy company suddenly terminated their contract which guaranteed pricing until the end of 2023, Junge Freiheit reported, citing Bild.

"Are they crazy?" said owner Eckehard Vatter, who says he has 14 days to pay the bill. "A year ago, we paid €5,856 per month in gas costs for our large furnaces and heating," he added.

Vatter said his new energy supplier hasn't given him a reason for the 1,200% price increase.

What's more, since Vatter's bakery is considered a 'craft business' under commercial law, he can't receive any support from the state. He claims to have paid €19.9 million in taxes in recent years, according to ReMix.

Posted on: Sep 19 06:54

While California may be sitting on close to a $100 billion budget surplus, it's also sitting on an estimated $1.5 trillion in unfunded local and state pension liabilities - which will fall squarely on the shoulders of California taxpayers.

Compounding the situation is an 11% drop in personal income tax revenue than California expected this year, in what may be the new normal as we enter what may be a global recession. And let's not forget - the great migration out of California by residents and companies alike. A net 280,000 people left the state in 2021 for various reasons, which may be setting the state economy up for disaster.

Posted on: Sep 19 06:53