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Thought for the day
"Evil cannot create anything new, they can only corrupt and ruin what good forces have invented or made." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
A delegation of US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Sunday (Aug 14) for a two-day trip during which they will meet President Tsai Ing-wen, the second high-level group to visit while there are military tensions between the self-ruled island and China.
Beijing has conducted military drills around the island to express its anger over US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in early August.
China regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification with the mainland, by force if necessary. Taiwan says it will defend its freedoms and democracy.
The de facto US embassy in Taipei said the delegation is being led by Senator Ed Markey, who is being accompanied by four House lawmakers on what it described as part of a larger visit to the Indo-Pacific region.
Taiwan’s presidential office said the group will meet Tsai on Monday morning.
“Especially at a time when China is raising tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the region with military exercises, Markey leading a delegation to visit Taiwan once again demonstrates the United States Congress’ firm support for Taiwan,” it said in a statement.
The Seventh Circuit on Monday left it in the hands of the Illinois Supreme Court to determine whether an employee’s biometric rights are violated each time they use their fingerprint to clock in at work, or only the first time the print is collected.
The underlying 2019 class action involves the limits on the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA, a 2008 law protecting the privacy rights of individuals as the use of their intimate, personalized and unchangeable biometric data for security screening and financial transaction purposes becomes more and more commonplace.
The lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, Latrina Cothron, claims her employer, White Castle, began making her scan her fingerprint to clock into work and access the restaurant’s computer system not long after she started work there in 2004. She says, however, that the restaurant did not inform her about its biometric data retention policies—which involve sending the data to a third party for authentication—or get her written consent to use her fingerprint data until 2018, a decade after BIPA took effect.
Copper thieves have an easy new target... electric vehicle charging stations that are filled with copper wiring.
"Out of the 40 stations that we have, 38 of them were stolen and the other two were damaged," said CEO of the nonprofit One Generation Jenna Hauss.
She says the estimated cost in damages is over $18,000.
"It’s frustrating. I get that anybody that experiences theft or loss you can take it personal but for it to happen to a non-profit, where we serve over 8,000 individuals a year; the most frail older adults homebound isolated, caregivers families...it just stings that much more."
So many empire apologist arguments depend on pretending the US empire doesn't exist; pretending the US is just a normal country sitting there minding its own business. If you do that, it really does look like Russia and China are picking on Ukraine and Taiwan completely unprovoked.
If you act like the US isn't the hub of an empire that is projecting power all over the globe, then the fact that it has a hand in every major international conflict becomes obscured and it just looks like evil barbaric foreigners doing evil things for no good reason. Take the empire out of the equation and Assad wasn't reacting to a western-backed regime change proxy war, he was just killing his own people because he likes killing people. China isn't responding to US encirclement, it's just being aggressive to its neighbors because it is evil.
Because the globe-spanning power structure loosely centralized around the United States is an unacknowledged, unofficial empire that doesn't look like the empires of old, its apologists can just insist that it doesn't exist, like mob lawyers used to do with the mafia. By doing that, they can assign others responsibility for the empire's crimes.
Britain's main opposition Labour Party will call for the energy price cap to be frozen this autumn, a party source said, to help the public deal with another expected surge in energy bills during the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades.
The Labour leader Keir Starmer is expected to set out details of the plans on Monday and call for a block on the expected price cap rising above 3,000 pounds per year in October from 1,971 pounds currently, according to the source.
The announcement will increase the pressure on foreign minister Liz Truss and former finance minister Rishi Sunak, the two Conservative Party politicians aiming to be Britain's next prime minister after Boris Johnson resigned last month, who have so far only promised more limited help.
Charities in Britain are warning that millions of people could be forced into poverty if the government does not soften the blow with a fresh support package worth billions of pounds.
What are the 48 Laws of Power? Here are all 48 laws, with explanations:
Law 1: Never Outshine the Master: Ensure that those above you always feel superior. Go out of your way to make your bosses look better and feel smarter than anyone else. Everyone is insecure, but an insecure boss can retaliate more strongly than others can.
Law 2: Never Put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies: Keep a close eye on your friends — they get envious and will undermine you. If you co-opt an enemy, he’ll be more loyal than a friend because he’ll try harder to prove himself worthy of your trust.
Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions: Always hide your true intentions. Create a smokescreen. If you keep people off-balance and in the dark, they can’t counter your efforts.
Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary: Say little and be ambiguous, leaving the meaning to others to interpret. The less you say, the more intimidating and powerful you are.
Law 5: So Much Depends on Reputation — Guard It with Your Life: Nurture and guard your reputation because reputation is integral to power. With a strong reputation, you can influence and intimidate others.
The state of Arizona is taking action to fill in unfinished gaps in the border wall.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed an Executive Order Friday afternoon authorizing the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to start emergency construction to fill in a 1,000-foot-long gap in the border wall in the Yuma sector. The spur-of-the-moment order was abruptly declared after construction had already started, and the governor’s office announced construction would be concluded over the weekend. The order comes only days following the Biden administration raised the “Remain in Mexico” policy earlier this week.
A former director of national intelligence said Aug. 12 that it is “virtually impossible” to prosecute people for mishandling classified documents, and asserted that former President Donald Trump has the “ultimately declassification authority” in terms of such documents.
“The president does have ultimate declassification authority. He can literally declassify—and President Trump had that authority, and could declassify anything you want while he was president,” John Ratcliffe, a Republican congressman before Trump appointed him to be director of national intelligence, said on Fox News.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe looks on as President Donald Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former football coach Lou Holtz, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Dec. 3, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)
According to documents unsealed earlier Friday, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was raided by FBI agents on Aug. 8 because of potential violations of several laws, including the Espionage Act, which some legal experts say relates to possessing classified defense information.
An inventory showed that agents seized what they listed as classified, secret, and top secret documents.
Monday August 15 marks the one year anniversary since the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan - which kicked off weeks of a botched US scramble to evacuate the remaining military, State Department, and US civilians from the Afghan capital. Tens of thousands of translators and other Afghans arrived at the airport in waves, desperate to get out amid the Taliban onslaught.
As the US-propped up president Ashraf Ghani was among the first officials to flee the country, reportedly with some $169 million raided from state coffers, local Afghan troops also melted away, allowing the Taliban to march into Kabul with ease. From there a chain of events saw what was then known as Hamid Karzai International Airport descend into chaos as a poorly prepared US and international coalition security perimeter struggled to prevent the flood of people desperate to escape the war-torn country from overwhelming the runways.
On August 26, 2021, a suicide bomber attacked a crowded airport entry checkpoint, killing scores of Afghan civilians and 13 American troops, mostly Marines. An estimated 45 additional US troops had been wounded in the blast, considered among the greatest US military disasters in over two decades of occupation since 2001.
Has Beijing finally realized it will need to step in aggressively if it wants to avoid an economic collapse?
Moments ago, and just days after the release of China's dismal woeful new credit data, the National Bureau of Statistics reported the July data dump which was just awful. Among the latest monthly data:
- Industrial production rose 3.8% from a year ago, lower than June’s 3.9% and missing economists’ forecast of a 4.3% increase
- Retail sales grew at a 2.7% annual pace, also lower than June's 3.1%, and badly missing the consensus estimate of 5.0%
- Fixed-asset investment gained 5.7% in the first seven months of the year, which however was also below the June YTD number of 6.1%, and also missed the 6.2% projected by economists
- The silver lining is that just as in the US, the worse the economy founders, the lower the jobless rate which in July fell to 5.4% from 5.5%
Let me introduce you to Barbara Baarsma. Barbara is the CEO of Rabo Carbon Bank. Yes, you read that right. Not Rabo Bank but Rabo Carbon Bank. In this 53 second video interview below she is advocating for a "Personal Carbon Wallet". That may not seem like a big deal but when you hear what she has to say you should be concerned, very concerned in fact.
I’ve transcribed the interview as it is in Dutch. It contains critical information. If you prefer to watch the video with subtitles by all means please do so.
“Let’s ensure that every household or every citizen of the Netherlands receives a certain amount of carbon emission rights. This way we can ensure that we do not emit more than our yearly limit. Your emission rights will be stored in a carbon wallet. So if I wanted to fly, I would buy some carbon emission rights from someone who can’t afford to fly. For example this way this poor person can earn some extra money.
Or if someone lives in a small house, he can sell his emission rights to someone who lives in a big house, this way poor people can benefit from the green economy”
Iraq’s top judicial body says it does not have the authority to dissolve the country’s parliament, days after influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr escalated a political standoff by giving it one week to dismiss the legislature so new elections can be held.
The decision is likely to increase tensions between Iran-backed groups in the Coordination Framework and al-Sadr’s followers, who repeatedly stormed the parliament and suspended a session to nominate a new prime minister.
On Tuesday, a federal jury in San Francisco found former Twitter employee Ahmad Abouammo guilty for spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia.
While overseeing media partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa for Twitter between 2013 and 2015, a Saudi official — referred to in the criminal complaint simply as “Foreign Official-1” — recruited Abouammo to covertly divulge personal information of Saudi dissidents. Now, Abouammo is facing 10 to 20 years in prison for wire fraud, money laundering, falsifying records, and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.
Two other Saudi citizens — Ali Alzabarah and Ahmed Almutairi — allegedly contributed to the scheme, but fled the country after being charged with acting as unregistered agents for Saudi Arabia. Alzabarah, also a former Twitter employee, accessed the personal information of an estimated 6,000 Twitter accounts across six months in 2015, according to the FBI.
President Biden’s top Asia official on the National Security Council said the US will be conducting “air and maritime transits” in the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks in response to China’s military exercises that were a consequence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
“We will ensure that our presence, posture, and exercise account for China’s more provocative and destabilizing behavior towards guiding the situation in the western Pacific towards greater stability,” Kurt Campbell, the NSC’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, told reporters on Friday.
Campbell said that the stepped-up US presence in the region “includes conducting standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks.” The US typically sails a single destroyer through the Taiwan Strait about once a month, but it’s possible the US could go for a bigger show of force after China conducted its largest-ever military drills around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit.
The US has thrown down the gauntlet. A showdown may come "in the coming weeks," if sanity does not prevail.
White House and Pentagon spokesmen keep insisting, as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl did on Aug. 14:
"What’s important for us right now is to make sure that Beijing understands that our forces in the region will continue to operate, to fly, to sail wherever international waters allows. That includes the Taiwan Strait.
"I think you should expect that we will continue to do Taiwan Strait transits, as we have in the past, in the coming weeks. …"
As Statista's Anna Fleck shows in the infographic below, based on new data from Eurostat, in June 2022 the EU countries (plus the UK) where unemployment was most widespread were Spain (12.6 percent), Greece (12.3 percent) and Italy (8.1 percent).
In contrast, Switzerland (2.0 percent), the Czech Republic (2.4 percent), Poland (2.7 percent) and Germany (2.8 percent) had the lowest rates.
This compares to the average rate for the European Union of 6.0 percent, which is an improvement on the 7.2 percent average of the year before.
Jewish settlers destroyed a portion of a water pipeline on Thursday, in the village of Al-Farsiya in the northern Jordan Valley region, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Muataz Besharat, a local activist, told WAFA that a group of Jewish settlers destroyed a portion of the pipeline used for irrigation by local Palestinian farmers, noting that the pipeline was built with funding from the European Union.
In a cluster of dusty hamlets south of Hebron, a decades-long contest of wills between Palestinians and the Israeli government may be coming to an end.
After a legal battle lasting over 20 years, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in early May that the army could evict over 1,300 Palestinians living inside a military training zone that covers miles of rolling hilltops.
“They’re trying to remove us from here, once and for all,” said school principal Haytham Abu Sabha, who says he has lived in this village his entire life.
On Saturday, Medical sources reported that a Palestinian child from Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, lost his eye after Israeli soldiers shot him with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
The sources said the child, Ziad Mohammad Abu Ayyash, 15, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet directly in the right eye, causing extensive damage, before being moved to a hospital and then to a Jordanian medical center in Amman.
The surgeons tried to save his eye, but the damage to the retina and optic nerves was so severe, forcing them to remove it.
The child was shot by a soldier in the fortified military tower at the main entrance of the refugee camp when dozens of Palestinians marched against the seriously escalating Israeli violations, including the recent offensive on Gaza, the killing of a Palestinian in Hebron, and the assassination of the three Palestinians in Jenin.
The clouds of recession are gathering globally. The Chinese economy contracted in 2Q. The US notched a “technical recession.” The flow of natural gas to Western Europe is restricted. In the past three months, we have revised down our forecast for global growth to 2.5%Y in 2022, which is about 50bp below consensus and 40bp lower than in May. We are edging closer to the bear scenario from our May Mid-year Outlook. Is a global recession upon us?
Recession is our baseline view for the euro area. The flow of natural gas from Russia has been restricted, prices have surged, and we see weak growth through the end of the year. We expect a recession by 4Q, but the data will be noisy. While 2Q GDP surprised to the upside because of the timing of the European post-Covid rebound, PMIs were already negative for July. A complete gas cut-off is the worst-case scenario and remains possible, but normalization of gas flows would bring only modest relief. Winter price levels are already partially baked in. And with the ECB almost single-mindedly focused on inflation, more hikes are likely until there are hard data that show economic contraction or normalized inflation. Inflation and rate headwinds are not dissipating any time soon.
When James Ray Epps Sr. first called the FBI regarding his January 2021 activities in Washington D.C., he didn’t mention how he implored protesters in several locations to go inside the Capitol, but he later told an agent that he expected a bomb would detonate on a side street near the Capitol.
Those are just two of the revelations in a collection of Epps-related material obtained by The Epoch Times, including FBI interview summaries, FBI audio recordings, transcripts, videos, and photographs.
In two interviews with the FBI in 2021, Epps explained his actions on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6. He admitted he was guilty of trespassing on restricted Capitol grounds and confessed to urging protesters to go to—and into—the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Despite the admissions, the FBI never arrested Epps and he was not charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with any Jan. 6 crimes. The non-action has fueled a crop of theories that he might have been working for the FBI or another agency.
You can't make this shit up...
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's son is the second largest investor in a Chinese tech company whose senior executive was arrested in a fraud investigation, according to DailyMail.com, raising questions about his secretive visit to Taiwan with his mother.
53-year-old Paul Pelosi Jr did not publicly disclose his stake before accompanying his mother on the taxpayer-funded trip to Taiwan.
Pelosi is not only a major investor in Borqs, a player in the Chinese internet-of-things and 5G sector, but has also worked as a consultant for the firm, rewarded for his services with 700,000 shares in the firm, at which time his holdings were exceeded only by CEO Pat Sek Yuen Chan.
Upon learning that Pelosi Jr. had tagged along with his mother’s delegation, several Taiwanese politicians, including the former chair of the island’s financial supervisory commission, Tseng Ming-chung, have demanded to know whether the island’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party had a financial relationship with the Pelosi family and whether the congresswoman’s visit involved business interests.
The younger Pelosi was not listed as a member of the delegation and had no government post or other stated mission to carry out.
It is unclear what Pelosi Jr.'s role at the company was.
In this special episode, The Epoch Times' Tiffany Meier sat down with Rex M. Lee, cybersecurity adviser at My Smart Privacy. He helps shed light on China’s cyberattacks on America, how they affect us in our daily lives, and what can be done to stop them.
Lee notes one way adversarial countries can get in is through invasive apps:
“You have to look at an app as legal malware. And that’s the best way you can describe apps today. An app—whether it’s a social media app developed by Bytedance, such as TikTok, or Facebook, or Instagram—any of these apps, they are basically legal malware that enable the developer to monitor, track, and data mine the end user for financial gain 24 by seven, 365 days a year.
“A single intrusive app enables the developer to collect over 5,000 highly confidential data points associated with the end user’s personal information, business information, medical information, legal information, and employment information because the surveillance and data mining done by these companies is indiscriminate, meaning that they’re not only collecting consumer information, they’re collecting every bit of information from the end user, including text messages, email, email attachments, calendar events, and so forth,” he added.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) confirmed that he has received his cell phone back from the FBI after the agency had seized it a few days back.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), joined by members of the House Freedom Caucus, speaks at a news conference on the infrastructure bill outside the Capitol Building in Washington, on Aug. 23, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
On Aug. 9, a day after raiding former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, FBI agents had taken Perry’s phone as part of a separate investigation. At the time, Perry was traveling with his family. Speaking to “Capitol Report” on NTD News, the GOP member confirmed that he has received his phone.
He is still uninformed as to why the phone was confiscated by the FBI. However, Perry was informed by his attorneys that he was not a target of the FBI’s investigation.
After the seizure, Perry had blasted FBI agents for making no attempt to contact his lawyer who would have made arrangements to submit the phone if needed by the agency.
In a statement, Perry said that though he was outraged, he was “not surprised” that the FBI under the direction of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice would seize the phone of a sitting member of Congress.
A group of military families and veterans watch President Biden's speech announcing that all troops are out of Afghanistan, on Aug. 31, 2021. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
The White House is planning to circulate a new memo on Capitol Hill defending President Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and claiming the move strengthened national security by freeing up critical military and intelligence agents, according to a copy of the document obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: The memo comes as many across Washington are still seeking answers about the flawed evacuation. Republicans in particular are planning to use the one-year anniversary to reexamine the failures that led to the Afghan capital swiftly falling into the hands of the Taliban.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt wants answers from the IRS commissioner on why the IRS needs an army of potentially armed new agents.
State Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks at an election-night gathering after winning the Republican primary for U.S. Senate at the Sheraton in Westport Plaza in St Louis, Mo., on Aug. 2, 2022. (Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Schmitt, who is a Republican Senatorial Candidate, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig on Aug. 11,questioning the agency’s massive expansion plans that include hiring 87,000 more IRS employees over the next 10 years.
The IRS has stockpiled 5 million rounds of ammunition and spent $750,000 this year to buy more, according to Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who introduced a bill to block future purchases by the agency.
Concurrently, social media was set ablaze this week by an IRS job post for Criminal Investigation Special Agents that would require them to “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force.” https://www.jobs.irs.gov/resources/job-descriptions/irs-criminal-investigation-special-agent
“This arsenal makes a recent IRS job advertisement downright frightening,” Schmitt wrote.
Russia has called for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send inspectors to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), a facility that Russia has controlled since March.
“We believe that the IAEA should not delay the visit. It would be good if it is held in late August or early September, but not all things depend on us,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy in Vienna, said on Saturday, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
In recent weeks, the ZNPP has come under frequent shelling, and Ukraine is blaming Russia for the attack even though the facility is under Russian control. Moscow denies the accusation and says Ukraine is attacking the plant. Ulyanov said that an IAEA inspection will show who is responsible for the shelling.
So far, IAEA officials haven’t blamed either Ukraine or Russia for the attacks on the plant. “The agency refrains from naming those responsible, partially due to the fact that none of its representatives is present at the station,” Ulyanov said. He added that a visit to the plant would give IAEA inspectors “a chance to see what is really happening there with their own eyes.”