"I am opposed to violence. Violence only helps the tyrant justify more oppressive crackdowns. On the other hand, making the tyrant think you might just disagree with me on this matter can be a powerful motivator!" -- Michael Rivero

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In the midst of Israel’s destructive campaign in the Gaza Strip, which has killed at least 34,000 people to date, Congress recently approved a $15 billion U.S. military aid package to Israel.


Providing funds towards artillery and munitions development, replenishing defense systems, and Gaza aid, the package also includes $1.2 billion towards Israel’s sci-fiesque “Iron Beam” laser weapon, a prospective directed energy system for air defense.

Once operational, Iron Beam’s systems appear slated to revolutionize Israel’s defense capacities, escalate the ongoing crisis in Gaza and already boiling tensions in the Middle East, and normalize lasers’ use in warfare as efforts towards directed energy weapons (DEWs) intensify. What’s more, the U.S. seems interested in procuring Iron Beam and adjacent technologies to its own ends, perhaps facilitating DEWs’ further future proliferation.

What is Iron Beam?

A prospective successor to Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system, which launches missiles to intercept and shoot down incoming threats within Israeli borders, Iron Beam is a directed energy system that neutralizes or brings down incoming projectiles with a fiber laser.

While Israel claims Iron Dome eliminates 90% of incoming threats, the system’s weakness is its higher costs, where a single interceptor missile costs about $50,000. In contrast, Iron Beam would produce similar results without costly artillery, running solely on electricity to produce laser beams that have destroyed tanks, rockets, drones, and other targets in tests.

"[Iron Beam] is a game-changer because we cannot only strike the enemy militarily but also weaken it economically," former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett remarked back in 2022, explaining that with Iron Beam, “[Israel’s adversaries can] invest tens of thousands of dollars in a rocket and we can invest two dollars to cover the cost of the electricity in shooting down the rocket."

Bad weather can blunt the system’s effectiveness, however, which means Iron Beam is perhaps best used in tandem with the Iron Dome system for comprehensive air defense.

A growing interest in Directed Energy Weapons

Israel’s Iron Beam is a manifestation of governments’ decades-long interest in DEWs, systems that can convert chemical or electrical energy into radiated energy that can be focused to damage, destroy or neutralize adversarial targets. Operating at rapid speeds, directed energy weapons such as lasers, high-power microwaves, and particle beam weapons are crafted to discreetly, quickly, and precisely hit targets without artillery.

Aware of their potential, a number of countries are developing DEWs. The UK recently tested its “DragonFire” laser weapon, which reportedly can hit a coin from a kilometer away. And Russia’s Peresvet laser system, designed to disable or “blind” high-altitude spacecraft, like satellites, and the Zadira laser system, which can shoot down drones, further, are being tested on Ukraine’s battlefields.

Likewise, the U.S. spends about $1 billion annually to develop laser and adjacent directed energy weaponry. Notably, the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office is overseeing an Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Energy Laser prototype program, awarding Lockheed Martin with a contract for the project in October 2023. Once operational, the laser is designed to counter or neutralize rockets, artillery, mortars and other projectiles hostile to warfighters in tandem with a military’s other defense components.

Ultimately, DEWs offer a cheap, accurate solution for militaries looking to counter drones and other aerial threats. But their destructive capacities, where Iron Beam’s lasers are able to neutralize and destroy many projectiles with a simple laser fire, are clear and contribute to an ever more perilous future for warfare.

Military aid to Israel accelerates DEW proliferation

Iron Beam’s pending operationality, whose deployment is reportedly being expedited by manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, poses heightened dangers within the context of Israel’s ongoing destruction of the Gaza Strip. Although Iron Beam was created for defensive purposes, Israel could plausibly repurpose its lasers as offensive purposes. Indeed, Israel has previously utilized other controversial and experimental weapons systems in Gaza, such as its new AI-powered Gospel and Lavender systems for military targeting.

Meanwhile, just as the U.S. had purchased batteries for Israel’s Iron Dome in the past (after October 7, it leased the two Iron Dome missile systems it purchased back to Israel), the U.S. is considering procuring Iron Beam for itself, suggesting that U.S. military aid to Israel is not only about assisting an ally, but also about expanding and upping U.S. military capacities.

Ultimately, U.S. military aid to Israel enables and exacerbates its campaign against the Palestinian people while fueling prospects for greater conflict in the region. When applied towards projects like Iron Beam, moreover, such funds assist the introduction and normalization of consequential and destructive weapons systems within military contexts without substantive public debate.

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The deployment of Western troops to Ukraine would be akin to these countries declaring war on Russia, and lead to a catastrophe on a global scale, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said.

"Sending their troops to the territory of former Ukraine will mean their direct involvement in the war. We will have to respond to this. And, alas, not on the territory of former Ukraine," he wrote on his Telegram channel.

He added that in this case, Western leaders "won’t be able to hide on Capitol Hill, or in the Elysee Palace, or on 10 Downing Street." "A global catastrophe will ensue," Medvedev concluded.

According to him, the cause of the discussion on dispatching Western troops to Ukraine, launched by French President Emmanuel Macron, is a "shameless calculation for political bonus points."

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Source: cryptogon.com




Via: BIG by Matt Stoller:

Last Sunday, I wrote a piece alleging that U.S. shale oil producers colluded with the Saudi government from 2021-2023 to drive up gas prices. That essay was based on some reporting I had done, as well as a complaint from a savvy Kansas City class action law firm, Sharp Law, with special expertise in oil. The theory was that American producers, after a bitter price war from 2014-2016, got tired of competing on price with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or the OPEC oil cartel, and at some point from 2017-2021, decided to join the cartel and cut supply to the market. This action had the affect of raising oil prices, costing oil consumers something on the order of $200 billion a year.

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission released evidence confirming that collusion played a serious role in hiking oil prices at that time. Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield, a leader in the fracking field, “exchanged hundreds of text messages with OPEC representatives and officials discussing crude oil market dynamics, pricing and output.” Sheffield was explicit about his goal, saying that “if Texas leads the way, maybe we can get OPEC to cut production. Maybe Saudi and Russia will follow. That was our plan,” he said, adding: “I was using the tactics of OPEC+ to get a bigger OPEC+ done.” He talked to shareholders, publicly threatened rivals, and ultimately achieved output cuts across the industry regardless of price. “Even if oil gets to $200/barrel,” he said, “the independent producers are going to be disciplined.

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This month, Clare Daly called out the hypocrisy of the EU for immediately putting sanctions on Iran following the country's retaliation on Israel, while failing to impose sanctions on Israel.

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French President Emmanuel Macron may be using Russophobia to satisfy his ambition of leading the EU, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has claimed.

Speaking to the Bosnian Serb Alternativna TV on Sunday, Lavrov noted the French leader’s recent interview with The Economist in which he called Moscow the main threat to EU security, adding that Macron has adopted an “ardent” anti-Russian stance.

“According to the French leader, the ambitions of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon were driven by the fact that these countries saw Russia as a threat,” Lavrov claimed.

“I know how the power system is set up in France and how the French tend to see their role in Europe. I do not rule out that this ‘caveman’ Russophobia that Macron is currently ‘breathing’ might be necessary in order to try and become the leader in Europe, by leveraging this topic,” the foreign minister explained.

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Since November 2022, the southern Irish State has been rocked by protests related to the current immigration policy of Leinster House, which has seen vast amount of male migrants placed into wildly unsuitable locations such as an inner city office block and children’s primary school, with no prior consultation being held beforehand with representatives of the communities where these men had been placed.

In November 2023, tensions would spill over when riots swept Dublin following the stabbing of three schoolchildren and their teacher by a migrant previously subjected to a deportation order, garnering worldwide media attention and leading to the government of then-Taoiseach and WEF ‘Young Global Leader’ Leo Varadkar introducing Facial Recognition Technology laws – a key component of the Great Reset agenda.

Last week, tensions would again spill over in the small rural town of Newtownmountkennedy, located in County Wicklow. Following weeks of peaceful protest by local residents in opposition to plans to house male migrants in a former hospital in the town, matters would come to a head when workmen, accompanied by masked security, arrived on site to begin work. Irish police would respond in a brutal manner, attacking local residents, pepper spraying a female journalist and imposing martial law on the sleepy town, resulting in scenes akin to a military occupation. 

In a grim irony, the Irish establishment would release a statement on Thursday condemning the Georgian government’s response to protesters demonstrating against a proposed law that would make it compulsory for any NGO that receives more than 20% of its funding from abroad to register as a foreign agent. The previous weeks scenes of state-sanctioned violence in Newtownmountkennedy being wilfully ignored by Leinster House.

48 hours after violence swept Newtownmountkennedy, British Prime Minister and WEF member Rishi Sunak would state in an interview with Sky News that London’s Rwanda resettlement scheme is a key contributory factor in migrants crossing from Britain to the southern Irish State, going through the British-ruled North of Ireland to do so.

This admission that British policy is contributing to the current instability in the south of Ireland has garnered little controversy however, in stark contrast to November 2021, when migrants gathered en-masse on the Belarus-Poland border, resulting in Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, alongside his Russian counterpart and key ally Vladimir Putin, being accused of attempting to “destabilise” the European Union.

To understand why, one must look at the wider geopolitical factors at play

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US Senators sent a letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, threatening to impose sanctions and even invade the Hague if it issues arrest warrants for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Biden administration is also pressuring the ICC not to charge Israeli officials over their war crimes in Gaza. Ben Norton discusses Washington's deep hypocrisy.

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The alarming reality that credit card rates have surged to 22%, the highest in four decades, echoes a stark resemblance to the tumultuous year of 2012, when delinquencies reached levels mirroring those of today, amid an unemployment rate of 8%. This unsettling parallel serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by American consumers in maintaining financial stability.

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After President Kennedy was assassinated, President Johnson proved himself adept at passing civil rights and other Great Society domestic legislation that JFK couldn’t. It would have been enough to make him one of our great presidents. But he had a fatal flaw when it came to Vietnam. 

Johnson saw that war in geopolitical and personal terms. A struggle by Vietnamese nationalists against French and then American oppressors and their South Vietnamese puppets was, to Johnson, an American fight against Communism, the Soviet Union, and China. Once he made that fight his own, he couldn’t “back down” despite the war’s course and the press and TV coverage which, over time, revealed to the American people his mistaken framing and the horrific punishment he, and they, were inflicting on their Vietnamese victims, who declined to submit despite millions dead, more millions maimed, and much of the country destroyed by bombs and napalm. 

Personal defeat was anathema to LBJ, so he persevered in a war that much of the country came to believe was immoral and wrong as the anti-war movement, led by students and faculty on campus, rapidly expanded and tore apart the country, creating divisions that remain today. When the movement took its protest to the Chicago streets outside the Democratic convention, the police ran amok in full view of the TV cameras, which played a role in Richard Nixon’s narrow defeat of Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 watershed election, which started the country down the more Republican, more conservative path that has largely characterized our politics to this day.

President Biden suffers the same flaws. He has been fine all his political life with the Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Israel was running an apartheid state all that time, but there was never so much as a peep of criticism of it from him. AIPAC’s money was political mother’s milk for him. He has been the USA’s foremost Christian Zionist for a long time. As President, he preferred the Palestinians docile and quiescent, so that his geopolitical vision of an Israeli-Saudi Arabian pact, leading a Western-dominated Middle East against Iran, could be born. When Hamas struck on October 7, Biden couldn’t see it as part of a resistance struggle against 75 years of oppression. He saw it as a challenge to him and his hopes for stabilizing the region to permit him to focus on his hot war against Russia and his cold war against China. Palestinians be damned. 

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Bird flu could cause the next pandemic in humans, the CDC has warned, as the H5N1 strain spreading on farms continued to mutate.

In a report quietly published late last week, the agency said avian flu viruses 'have pandemic potential' in a section about rolling out vaccines if there is a human spillover.

Also last week, a separate study by the US Department of Agriculture released genetic data showing the H5N1 strain tearing through dairy farms had acquired dozens of new mutations.

These changes could make the strain more likely to spread from cows to other animals, including people, and make the virus resistant to antivirals.

Webmaster addition: And JUST in time for the election!

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Source: Ben Bartee



Originally published via Armageddon Prose:

Is it possible?

Even as jaded as I am on the biomedical industry, I must confess that I’ve never encountered the shocking figure offered below and, actually, would never have guessed at the true possible death toll levied on the American public by the pharmaceutical industry.

Via Epoch Times 

Overtreatment with drugs kills many people, and the death rate is increasing. It is therefore strange that we have allowed this long-lasting drug pandemic to continue*, and even more so because most of the drug deaths are easily preventable.

In 2013, I estimated that our prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, and in 2015, that psychiatric drugs alone are also the third leading cause of death. However, in the United States, it is commonly stated that our drugs are ‘only’ the fourth leading cause of death. This estimate was derived from a 1998 meta-analysis of 39 U.S. studies where monitors recorded all adverse drug reactions that occurred while the patients were in hospital, or which were the reason for hospital admission.”

*Acknowledging the apparently deep level Dr. Gøtzsche’s understanding of the institutional rot in private industry and government, I will take this feigned ignorance of why the murder-by-pharmaceutical agenda has been allowed to continue unopposed as sarcasm.

Of particular interest to me, personally, was the devastation wrought by the class of drugs called benzodiazepines which includes U.S. brand names like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, etc.

American doctors (not doctors internationally, curiously) pass them out like candy for any kind of mental health disorder, along with SSRIs, yet fail to warn of the consequences of physical addiction and withdrawal, which are indescribably heinous and which I experienced firsthand.


“In 2013, I estimated that, in people aged 65 and above, neuroleptics, benzodiazepines, or similar, and depression drugs kill 209,000 people annually in the United States. I used rather conservative estimates, however, and usage data from Denmark, which are far lower than those in the United States. I have therefore updated the analysis based on U.S. usage data…

For benzodiazepines and similar drugs, a matched cohort study showed that the drugs doubled the death rate, although the average age of the patients was only 55. The excess death rate was about 1 percent per year. In another large, matched cohort study, the appendix to the study report shows that hypnotics quadrupled the death rate (hazard ratio 4.5). These authors estimated that sleeping pills kill between 320,000 and 507,000 Americans every year. A reasonable estimate of the annual death rate would therefore be 2 percent.

For SSRIs, a UK cohort study of 60,746 depressed patients older than 65 showed that they led to falls and that the drugs kill 3.6 percent of patients treated for one year. The study was done very well, e.g. the patients were their own control in one of the analyses, which is a good way to remove the effect of confounders. But the death rate is surprisingly high.”

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The prosecutor at the center of former President Donald Trump’s so-called "hush money" trial in New York received a total of $12,000 from the Democratic National Committee for consulting work in 2018, records show.

According to the data collected by the Federal Election Commission, the DNC gave Matthew Colangelo two $6,000 payments in January 2018 for “political consulting.”

At the time of the payments, Colangelo was working in the office of then-New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman as a deputy, according to Fox News. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the current case against Trump, also worked in that office.

Later that same year, the  state Attorney General’s office, now under the command of Barbara Underwood, filed a lawsuit against the Trump foundation, alleging President Trump used his foundation’s assets to pay legal obligations, Fox News also reported.

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Two years ago, sodium-ion battery pioneer Natron Energy was busy preparing its specially formulated sodium batteries for mass production. The company slipped a little past its 2023 kickoff plans, but it didn't fall too far behind as far as mass battery production goes. It officially commenced production of its rapid-charging, long-life lithium-free sodium batteries this week, bringing to market an intriguing new alternative in the energy storage game.

Not only is sodium somewhere between 500 to 1,000 times more abundant than lithium on the planet we call Earth, sourcing it doesn't necessitate the same type of earth-scarring extraction. Even moving beyond the sodium vs lithium surname comparison, Natron says its sodium-ion batteries are made entirely from abundantly available commodity materials that also include aluminum, iron and manganese.

Furthermore, the materials for Natron's sodium-ion chemistry can be procured through a reliable US-based domestic supply chain free from geopolitical disruption. The same cannot be said for common lithium-ion materials like cobalt and nickel.

Sodium-ion tech has received heightened interest in recent years as a more reliable, potentially cheaper energy storage medium. While its energy density lags behind lithium-ion, advantages such as faster cycling, longer lifespan and safer, non-flammable end use have made sodium-ion an attractive alternative, especially for stationary uses like data center and EV charger backup storage.

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On May 5th, Orthodox Christians around the world celebrated Easter, the most important feast in Christianity. In Ukraine, the Orthodox Church has been officially persecuted since 2022, with several clergy and faithful people being arrested by the regime’s authorities due to alleged “ties with Russia”. While promoting persecution, however, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky uses religious rhetoric to try to garner popular support for his war efforts.

In his Easter message, Zelensky recorded a video at Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, making war propaganda with pseudo-religious rhetoric. According to Zelensky, Ukrainians are “God’s chosen people.” He described Kiev’s troops as “servants” of divine will against the Russians. In the same vein, Zelensky called on all Ukrainian Christians to unite against Moscow.

“The world sees it, God knows it (…) And we believe God has a chevron with the Ukrainian flag on his shoulder. So, with such an ally, life will definitely win over death,” he said.

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And in the case of today’s European economies the fatality, the “Kissinger factor”, consists of the economic suicide imposed on it by the United States and culminating in the war in Ukraine, but prepared and instigated for a long time.

The self-destructive vocation of our continent was predicted by Nietzsche two centuries ago with the concept of “European nihilism”.

His dress test was the two world wars of the twentieth century, and the path towards the final solution began with the vassalage towards the USA established after 1945. Europe’s subjection was not linear.

It unfolded in alternating phases, with bouts of independence during which the Old Continent reclaimed its sovereignty.

The most important jolt produced the birth of the European Union and of a currency, the euro, potentially an alternative to the dollar. But then Europe fell further and further down, until the current terminal phase.

The break with Russia in 2022, with the war in Ukraine, reverses the European Union’s path towards the East and nullifies the formula of its capitalism. This rupture entails three lethal consequences, destined to worsen in the coming years unless reactions dictated by the survival instinct.

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When China recently launched the first of eight Hangor II submarines for Pakistan at the Wuchang Shipbuilding yard in Wuhan, India moved another step forward to enhance its Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capability by conducting a successful test of the Supersonic Missile-Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system.

The Supersonic Missile-Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system, designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in India, is a next-generation missile-based lightweight torpedo delivery mechanism.

According to a report, the SMART system to launch lightweight torpedoes can target submarines hundreds of kilometres away — far beyond the conventional range of lightweight torpedoes.

As per DRDO, this canister-based missile system consists of several advanced sub-systems, namely two-stage solid propulsion system, electromechanical actuator system, precision inertial navigation system etc.

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Apparently, the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t been learned. Dangerous biolab experiments continue – humanity be damned.

According to the Daily Mail, 

Chinese scientists have engineered a virus with parts of Ebola in a lab that killed a group of hamsters.

A team of researchers at Hebei Medical University used a contagious disease of livestock and added a protein found in Ebola, which allows the virus to infect cells and spread throughout the human body.

The group of hamsters that received the lethal injection 'developed severe systemic diseases similar to those observed in human Ebola patients,' including multi-organ failure,' the study shared.

The results of this study were predictably horrific,

One particularly horrific symptom saw the infected hamsters develop secretions in their eyes, which impaired their vision and scabbed over the surface of the eyeballs.

A decade ago, Ebola ravaged parts of Africa. Ebola has an average fatality rate of 50%,

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The NYPD has begun arresting people after more than 1,000 pro-Palestine demonstrators marched through upper Manhattan towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is hosting the star-studded Met Gala.

As protesters marched down 5th Avenue towards the event, blocking traffic, cops stepped in at the East 79th Street Transverse at Central Park and started the arrests, the NY Post reports.

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Death Of Self-Checkout, Walmart Charges For It In Some Locations

Tyler Durden's Photo

by Tyler Durden

Monday, May 06, 2024 - 07:20 PM

By Mish Shedlock of MishTalk

Theft and complaints are taking a toll on self-checkout. Now, Walmart wants you to pay $98 a year for Walmart+ for the self-checkout privilege at some stores.

Retailers Scale Back Self-Checkouts

The Wall Street Journal reports Retailers Scale Back Self-Checkouts to Curb Irritation and Theft

Attention, shoppers: Retailers are rethinking your cashier job.

Store operators are modifying how they use self-checkout stations in a bid to boost their bottom lines and improve the shopping experience for customers.

Some retailers are pulling kiosks out of stores as a way to keep a lid on theft. Others, including Target (TGT), Dollar General (DG) and the regional grocery chain Schnucks, have limited how many items customers can bring to self-checkouts to avoid bottlenecks and alleviate headaches for staff.

Schnucks now limits its self-checkout lanes to 10 items or fewer. While the primary intention is to improve customer service and checkout efficiency, Simon said the company expects some reduction of theft as well. “This item limit will help us maintain our costs while keeping the prices lower for our customers,” he said.

About a fifth of people who used self-checkouts said they accidentally took an item without paying for it, according to a survey of 2,000 shoppers last year by LendingTree. Some 15% of self-checkout users admitted to stealing an item on purpose.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, said it removed self-checkout lanes and replaced them with cashier-staffed lanes at locations including stores in Cleveland and Shrewsbury, Mo. When checkout access is limited, some stores are designating self-checkout lanes for Walmart+ customers, who pay a membership fee of $98 a year.

In 2022, Dollar General said self-checkout was so successful and popular with customers that it tried making some stores entirely self-checkout. A year later, CEO Todd Vasos pulled back on those plans.

“We had relied and started to rely too much this year on self-checkout in our stores,” Vasos said on a December earnings call. “We should be using self-checkout as a secondary checkout vehicle, not a primary.”

In March, the company said it would remove self-checkout for stores with the highest levels of shrink. For remaining stores with self-checkout, it would limit customers to scanning five items or fewer.

Do You Like Self-Checkout?

I cannot stand it. My wife prefers it. Something always seems to go wrong for me. You cannot scan beer or wine, the bar code won’t read, and Costco has a limit on the cost amount.

The latter hit me at Costco this week when I tried to scan a whole beef tenderloin. I had to call an attendant a second time for beer. Loose produce is generally an issue.

Besides, trained clerks are faster, assuming you can find one. But it’s theft issue that will kill self-checkout at grocery stores. Double up a package of T-bone steaks and poof, the store just lost over $30.

RFIDs can take care of general merchandise, but RFIDs in hamburger?

Now Walmart wants you to pay for the agony of self-checkout. No thanks.

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by Tyler Durden

Americans have been stunned by the Democratic megadonors funneling money into Marxist groups, sparking mass chaos across colleges and universities nationwide as risks are mounting that 'BLM-style' riots could spill over into city streets this summer.

Law-abiding Americans have taken notice of radical left-wing policies pushing this nation further into chaos, from failed progressive cities ignoring law and order to open borders igniting the greatest illegal alien invasion this nation has ever seen. There is a growing sense among the population that possibly a controlled demolition of the country is underway by the radical left. 

The spark that could ignite the next round of social unrest is possibly Marxist 'useful idiots' (some of which are professional and paid protesters) on school campuses who quite literally have said they want a revolution to usher in a "socialist reconstruction of America."

Americans are closely watching these developments on their smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs and have taken note of the possibility of summer riots, pushing the nation closer and closer to what some voters believe is a civil war on the horizon. 

A new survey by Rasmussen Reports found that 41% of Americans are concerned a civil war could erupt sometime over the next five years, including 16% who say civil war is "very likely" in that same timeframe. 

Meanwhile, 49% of respondents do not believe another civil war is likely in the next five years, with 20% expressing that it is "Not At All Likely." An additional 10% are uncertain about the future. 

"The possibility that America could face another civil war soon is not too far-fetched for a lot of voters," the pollsters said about their survey. 

Claire's Observations:  This is the last, worst, thing this country needs right now.  We need to focus on what unites us as Americans, and not what, potentially, could pull this country apart.


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By Ye Xie, Bloomberg Markets Live reporter and strategist

Chinese stocks have been on a stealth bull run, but the renewed market optimism may be built a shaky foundation — especially when it comes to credit.

The MSCI China Index has climbed 24% from its lows in January. The Hang Seng Index has also recovered, so much so that its 9% gain this year is on par with the Nasdaq Composite Index.

A number of factors have helped. The economic data in the first quarter beat expectations, with stimulus starting to gain traction. Valuations were cheap and investors who were bearish in China needed to close some of their underweighted positions to catch up. In addition, the Politburo meeting last week offered some positive surprises, hinting that the government may find ways to deal with unsold properties.

But in the big scheme of things, a lot of structural headwinds haven’t disappeared. The housing market, for instance, remains in deep trouble, with new home sales in big cities down 39% in April.

An even bigger risk lies in the broader credit market. Beijing’s strategy has been to shift resources from the speculative housing market to more productive industrial sectors such as electronic vehicles and renewable energy. As a result, bank loans to the housing sector have collapsed, while lending to industries soared.

But there’s a limit to how far such a strategy can go. Some industries are now plagued by overcapacity concerns, while there’s a rising threat of protectionism from foreign countries that have seen a flood of Chinese imports. And in recent months, industrial loan growth has slowed after the epic surge.

As a result, strategists at Clocktower note that China may be in the potentially treacherous position where credit demand from both households and corporations is falling at the same time.

Why that is important? The strategists explained:

A credit collapse will be a death knell for a highly leveraged economy like China. If the public sector does not come to support credit growth in a timely manner, a sharp growth deceleration is likely to occur going forward as economic agents will be forced to cut consumption and investment to meet their debt obligations.

That’s the warning Chinese stock bulls may have to heed.

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The revelation that CRE troubles extend beyond small banks to major financial institutions is deeply concerning. Despite the sector’s smaller proportion of large banks’ balance sheets compared to pre-pandemic levels, the challenges persist, pointing to systemic issues rather than temporary measures.

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