"It is very difficult to maintain any kind of a 'common cause' with a Federal government which appears to have lost all common sense." -- Claire K. Rivero

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Via Middle East Eye

Israel's defense ministry said in a statement on Monday that its arms exports for 2023 hit a record in sales, as Israel's war in Gaza enters its ninth month and as the country's military continues to be supplied with hundreds of millions of dollars in American weapons.

The report by the defense ministry said that the total exports of Israeli arms reached $13.1bn in 2022, an increase of $500m from the previous year and double the amount of exports from five years ago. More than a third of the sales comprised missiles, rockets and air-defense systems, with one of the biggest contracts of 2023 being with Germany, which signed a deal to purchase the Arrow 3 long-range air defense system for around $4bn.

A picture shows Israel's Rafael stand at the Dubai Airshow in the Gulf emirate in 2021, AFP

Claire's Observations:  The Israeli weapons industry, collectively, needs a new image.  

How about a TV spot,  (read with a voice sounding like that of a boxing announcer) saying,  "Slaughtermania; the best weapons you can buy, if you need a genocide through which to cull your undesirables", showing graphic images of women and children murdered or maimed for life, courtesy of Israeli weapons  That ought to work, right?!?

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Authored by Jonathan Draeger via RealClearPolitics,

One of the defining features of former President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was his – at least at the time – unorthodox opinions on trade. With the notable exception of Bernie Sanders, the other candidates parroted the longstanding bipartisan consensus on free trade. Trump promoted protectionist policies and tariffs.

We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world,” Trump said at a 2016 campaign rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In his remarks on the campaign trail, you could hear echoes of his interviews from the 1980s, where he aired his frustration with how the United States handled trade, specifically regarding Japan and the Middle East. “I think a lot of people are tired of watching other countries ripping of the United States” he said. “This is a great country. [Other nations] laugh at us behind our back, they laugh at us because of our own stupidity.”

Now his protectionist views have become mainstream. President Biden recently imposed a fresh set of tariffs on China, including 25% on steel, aluminum, batteries, ship-to-shore cranes, and some medical products, 50% on semiconductors and solar cells, and 100% on electric vehicles.

Before Trump came along, the prevailing wisdom on trade was that free trade and low-to-no tariffs was the best policy to bolster the global economy, including that of the United States. The North American Free Trade Agreement was first envisioned by Ronald Reagan, introduced by George H.W. Bush, and signed into law by Bill Clinton. Ross Perot objected vociferously to NAFTA, but he finished third in 1992 and 1996, and the issue was settled – or so it seemed, based on the presidents who followed Clinton.


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Authored by Andrew Korybko via Substack,

Zelensky celebrated his country’s new security pact with the US on Thursday as “bring[ing] our relations to the level of a true alliance”, but the reality is that it’s just a consolation for the US not approving Ukraine’s NATO membership, which would give it much more meaningful mutual defense commitments. The full text can be read here while the fact sheet can be read here, and upon doing so, the reader will learn that the US is simply formalizing the support that it’s been giving Ukraine since February 2022.

There’s no obligation for the US to dispatch troops to Ukraine if it enters into another round of hostilities with Russia sometime after the ongoing one finally ends. To be sure, NATO’s Article 5 doesn’t obligate the same either, but the US would be under much more pressure to directly aid Ukraine if it were an official military ally, which is why Russia was always so strongly opposed to that country’s membership. The latest pact therefore just maintains Ukraine’s role as NATO’s anti-Russian proxy.

As was observed in mid-January after Ukraine reached its first such agreement with the UK, “Ukraine’s Hoped-For ‘Security Guarantees’ Aren’t All That They Were Hyped Up To Be”. The precedent established by that pact set the stage for all those that followed, including this latest one with the US. The bombshell that Biden dropped in early June about how peace in Ukraine “doesn’t mean NATO, they are part of NATO”, leaves no doubt that the US prefers keeping that country outside of the bloc.

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There has not been a global war since the 1940s, and now nations all over the planet are armed to the teeth with weapons of immense destructive power.  Everyone knows that it is just a matter of time before global conflict turns our world upside down, and once that happens everything will change.  If you think that economic conditions are bad now, just wait until war paralyzes global trade.  If you think that global hunger is bad now, just wait until war absolutely devastates global food production.  War will be one of the primary elements of the “perfect storm” that we are now facing, and it will have a dramatic impact on many of the other elements.
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China's real estate crisis deepens, property investment down 10%, home prices plummet, local gov't debt soars.
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More than 20 state attorneys general have joined forces in opposing special counsel Jack Smith’s request for a gag order on former President Donald Trump in his classified documents case.

In a legal filing made on June 16, 24 Republican state attorneys general argued that the First Amendment protects former President Trump’s “colorful language” in response to a request from special counsel Jack Smith for a gag order.

Smith’s team claimed that Trump’s allegations in May about the FBI agents involved in a search of his Mar-a-Lago residence last August could lead to threats or harassment against law enforcement officials.

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Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has come under fire for his remarks on recent Supreme Court rulings related to gun control, particularly those concerning bump stocks and the Second Amendment. During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union”, Murphy expressed alarm that the court’s decisions could hinder Congress from implementing basic gun control measures, such as mandatory background checks and removing AR-15s from public streets.

Murphy’s comments regarding the Republican administration’s initial bump stock ban and the Supreme Court’s subsequent ruling to overturn it have sparked controversy. Critics argue that Murphy misinterprets the issue, noting that the Supreme Court’s decision was based on the overreach of a federal agency, not a direct attack on the Second Amendment.

In his effort to prevent future tragedies like Sandy Hook, Murphy has advocated for stricter gun laws. However, opponents argue that his proposed laws would not enhance safety and might even reduce it. They highlight that personal firearms are used to prevent crimes between 500,000 and 2.8 million times a year, suggesting that more restrictive laws could leave citizens vulnerable.

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McDonald’s is reportedly planning to end its artificial intelligence-powered automated drive-thru order-taking experiment at more than 100 locations after angry customers reported receiving items they didn’t order.

The gaffes included adding nine sweet teas to one customer’s order and giving another customer an ice cream cone topped with bacon.

The Chicago-based fast food chain and IBM partnered on the pilot program two years ago at select franchises.

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George E. Norcross III, an influential New Jersey Democrat, was indicted on Monday with 13-counts of racketeering.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, a Democrat, unsealed the indictment, which alleges that Norcross used his political influence to acquire waterfront real estate in Camden, N.J.

The 111-page indictment names five other individuals who were also charged.

"The state alleges that George Norcross has been running a criminal enterprise in the state for, at least, the last 12 years," said Platkin. "This alleged conduct of the Norcross enterprise has caused great harm to individuals, businesses nonprofits, the people of the state of New Jersey and especially to the City of Camden and its residents. That stops today." 

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CNN has dropped some new rules for the presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, including the possibility that a third-party candidate could be on stage as well.

Biden appeared to have gotten everything he wanted in the debate, which the former president has agreed to. The June 15 debate will be 90 minutes and have two commercial breaks, during which the candidates will not be allowed to interact with their staffs, CNN reported.

“Both candidates agreed to appear at a uniform podium, and their podium positions will be determined by a coin flip,” the network said.

“Microphones will be muted throughout the debate except for the candidate whose turn it is to speak. While no props or pre-written notes will be allowed on the stage, candidates will be given a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water.

“Some aspects of the debate – including the absence of a studio audience – will be a departure from previous debates. But, as in the past, the moderators “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion,” according to the network,” it said.

The network added, however, that Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s participation in the debate is not impossible, though it’s also not considered likely at this point.

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Anyone who wants to prepare themselves for home defense, riots, and looting will want to own a shotgun. There are many reasons why someone should have a shotgun available in their possession for the preparation of such events. Even if you are not interested in hunting or recreational shooting, a shotgun is always good to have for home defense purposes no matter who you are. No one likes to think that their family or property will ever be in danger, but there is always the possibility of someone trying to break into your home for whatever reason.

As a prepper, you need to be ready for anything. Someone could break into your home no matter where in America you live. There is an even greater chance of this happening if there is a natural disaster or riot taking place in your area. We’ve already seen a dramatic increase in the number of hurricanes that strike the North American states and territories each year. This trend is likely going to continue as the years go on.

If your area was hit by a hurricane before, then you already know how differently people act during these times. One real problem that emerges in the middle of this chaos is looting. These looters see a time of natural disaster as the perfect opportunity to break into people’s homes and steal their belongings. They figure the property owners will have already vacated their premises and the police will be too busy or unresponsive to deal with a break-in situation at someone’s home.

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