"Virtue gives birth to tranquility, tranquility to leisure, leisure to disorder, disorder to ruin… and similarly from ruin, order is born, from order virtue, from virtue, glory and good fortune." -- Niccolò Machiavelli

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Originally appeared at TomDispatch.

“To this day I feel humiliation for what was done to me… The time I spent in Abu Ghraib – it ended my life. I’m only half a human now.” That’s what Abu Ghraib survivor Talib al-Majli had to say about the 16 months he spent at that notorious prison in Iraq after being captured and detained by American troops on October 31, 2003. In the wake of his release, al-Majli has continued to suffer a myriad of difficulties, including an inability to hold a job thanks to physical and mental-health deficits and a family life that remains in shambles.

He was never even charged with a crime – not exactly surprising, given the Red Cross’s estimate that 70% to 90% of those arrested and detained in Iraq after the 2003 American invasion of that country were guilty of nothing. But like other survivors, his time at Abu Ghraib continues to haunt him, even though, nearly 20 years later in America, the lack of justice and accountability for war crimes at that prison has been relegated to the distant past and is considered a long-closed chapter in this country’s War on Terror.

The Abu Ghraib “Scandal”

On April 28th, 2004, CBS News’s 60 Minutes aired a segment about Abu Ghraib prison, revealing for the first time photos of the kinds of torture that had happened there. Some of those now-infamous pictures included a black-hooded prisoner being made to stand on a box, his arms outstretched and electrical wires attached to his hands; naked prisoners piled on top of each other in a pyramid-like structure; and a prisoner in a jumpsuit on his knees being threatened with a dog. In addition to those disturbing images, several photos included American military personnel grinning or posing with thumbs-up signs, indications that they seemed to be taking pleasure in the humiliation and torture of those Iraqi prisoners and that the photos were meant to be seen.

Once those pictures were exposed, there was widespread outrage across the globe in what became known as the Abu Ghraib scandal. However, that word “scandal” still puts the focus on those photos rather than on the violence the victims suffered or the fact that, two decades later, there has been zero accountability when it comes to the government officials who sanctioned an atmosphere ripe for torture.

Claire's Observations:  When the US tortures (or outsources torture to "contractors" ), the following happens.  

  1.  The US government says, to the world, "We have thrown all pretenses to honor human rights into the garbage, and will do precisely what we want to any prisoners we have to obtain "information", whether that information is actually actionable, or not.   There will be no judge; no jury; no civil rights;  and we have the right to torture these people to death with extrajudicial assassinations, should we so choose. (Obama loved the concept of "extrajudicial assassination" and had quite a number of people killed  in this manner under his watch.)


  2.  The people being tortured will say ANYTHING they think their interrogators want to hear, to get the torture to stop.

  3.  Countries which don't particularly care for the US, will consider ALL US Military (and certain non-military individuals) "fair game" to arrest and torture.

    Back during  World War II, there was a German interrogator by the name of Hans Schaarf, and he is one of my personal heroes.  Why?!?  Because he absolutely NEVER used torture as his "method of choice" for extracting info from US or Canadian Prisoners of war, but befriended them, and signed them out to go with him to cultural events, and just talked with them.  His methods worked brilliantly, and he was so respected by the Allies that after the war, he gave lectures on his methods in the US and Europe.  He ultimately settled in Arizona and became a very respected artist and potter.  https://psmag.com/social-justice/nazi-interrogator-revealed-value-kindness-84747

    There are some very sick people in the world, who enjoy inflicting pain on their brother and sister human beings; these people should never, in a million years, be chosen for "interrogation duties". What Schaarf did worked brilliantly and humanely, and I don't understand why his techniques are not mandated at US military universities, because they should absolutely be included in students' curriculum.

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Hussein Dawabsheh, head of the Duma town council, inside a burned house in the town, occupied West Bank, April 14, 2024. (Oren Ziv)
Hussein Dawabsheh, head of the Duma town council, inside a burned house in the town, occupied West Bank, April 14, 2024. (Oren Ziv)
Israeli settlers embarked on a murderous rampage across the occupied West Bank over the weekend, killing at least three Palestinians and destroying property in more than a dozen villages and towns. The immediate trigger for the attacks was the disappearance on Friday, April 12 of Binyamin Ahimeir, a 14-year-old Israeli who went out shepherding that morning from the recently “legalized” Malachei HaShalom (“Angels of Peace”) outpost. By the time Israeli authorities found Ahimeir’s body the following day and declared him a terror victim, the settlers’ rampage through the surrounding Palestinian communities was already in full swing.

According to the human rights group Yesh Din, Israeli settlers attacked 11 Palestinian villages and towns on Saturday alone. They threw stones, set fire to more than 100 vehicles, damaged scores of homes and businesses, and slaughtered hundreds of livestock. In the village of Beitin, near Ramallah, settlers shot dead 17-year-old Omar Hamed. In Al-Mughayyir, slightly further north, 25-year-old Jihad Abu Aliya was killed in circumstances that are still somewhat unclear: settlers were attacking the village at the time, but the Israeli army stated that Abu Aliya was killed by their fire. Another incident captured on a security camera shows Israeli soldiers standing guard while settlers set fire to a car in the town of Deir Dibwan, also near Ramallah.

The pogroms continued into Monday, when Israeli settlers shot dead two Palestinian shepherds — Abdelrahman Bani Fadel, 30, and Mohammed Ashraf Bani Jama, 21 — on land belonging to the community of Khirbet al-Tawil, east of the town of Aqraba near Nablus. According to testimonies from villagers, a large group of settlers, some of them armed, entered privately-owned Palestinian land near the residents’ homes at around 4 p.m. with a herd of cows (settlers are increasingly choosing to herd cows over sheep and goats because they eat more and are harder to frighten). Later, more settlers arrived, some of them armed and masked. Soldiers also arrived on the scene. 

Shortly thereafter, according to eyewitnesses, in broad daylight, settlers opened fire on the Palestinians, killing the two men. The IDF Spokesperson subsequently announced that the shooting had not been carried out by soldiers. The event was live streamed on the Facebook page of the adjacent Palestinian town; in the video, dozens of shots can be heard ringing out in several clusters for more than a minute. 

Nidal, whose cousin, Abdelrahman, was killed yesterday and who was present at the scene, told +972: “I told the soldiers to push the settlers out and we’ll leave. Some had weapons and clubs, some were masked.” According to Nidal, one of the settlers then pepper sprayed one of  Palestinians, and a brawl ensued. “The soldiers fired in the air, and seconds later the settlers fired M16s from up close,” he said. “I’ve lived here for 35 years — there’s no law here. The settlers are above the law.”

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Voting more aid for this government is another endorsement of the atrocious campaign that has devastated Gaza over the last six months.

 by Daniel Larison 

The president uses some absurd rhetoric about the new military aid bill:

Congress has passed my legislation to strengthen our national security and send a message to the world about the power of American leadership: we stand resolutely for democracy and freedom, and against tyranny and oppression [bold mine-DL].

This will come as news to the more than two million people in Gaza being deliberately starved by a U.S.-armed client. The U.S. has stood resolutely on the side of an occupier as it commits countless war crimes against the civilian population of a territory under its control. In Gaza, the U.S. has stood for man-made famine and the slaughter of the innocent. Voting more aid for this government is another endorsement of the atrocious campaign that has devastated Gaza over the last six months, and it signals to Netanyahu once again that the U.S. will do nothing to halt the war. Congress and the president are sending the world a message about American leadership, and the message is that the U.S. will aid and abet mass starvation and genocide instead of demanding that its client agree to a ceasefire.

Just this week, another Israeli airstrike in Rafah killed 17 children. According to Euro-Med Monitor, more than 15,000 children have been killed by Israeli forces in this war. Their latest count puts the death toll at more than 42,000. That doesn’t include the thousands estimated to be buried in the rubble of destroyed buildings. An assault on Rafah all but guarantees that the death toll will skyrocket as a result of indiscriminate attacks, worsening famine, and the spread of disease. If the U.S. does nothing to prevent the expected attack, our government will share significant responsibility for the ensuing nightmare and massive loss of life. The famine created by the Israeli government is already claiming more innocent lives, and unless there is an immediate, lasting ceasefire and a massive relief effort tens of thousands more will die preventable deaths from hunger and disease in the coming months.

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By Mat Nashed
Published On 25 Apr 202425 Apr 2024

Haitham Kaabna and his family were terrified when dozens of Israeli settlers stormed their village of Tajamaa al-Murajaat in the occupied West Bank on October 13.

The settlers, he says, were protected by the army and carried M16 assault rifles as they attacked farmers.

For two weeks, settlers destroyed olive trees, vandalised cars and stole cattle. The violence led to the forced displacement of some 200 Palestinian families from Tajamaa al-Murajaat, in the Jordan Valley.

Kaabna stayed, until settlers entered his home on October 26 and he felt he had to flee with his family to safety.

“Maybe 40 settlers came into our house and began beating up women and children. They also hit my brother and my son, who is only about two years old,” Kaabna told Al Jazeera.

Since October 7, Israeli settlers have attacked and expelled 20 Palestinian communities in the West Bank, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The forced expulsions have flown under the radar due to Israel’s war on Gaza, ostensibly in retaliation for a Hamas-led surprise attack on southern Israel, which has killed more than 34,000 people and drawn accusations of genocide.

Attacks have escalated in recent weeks, despite moves by the United States government to sanction some settlers and cut military aid to an Israeli army unit implicated in grave human rights violations.

Claire's Observations:  By-di-Bye's minions have already backed down on both issues, so the attacks will continue, and there is utterly no recourse for these Palestinians who have been viciously attacked, and had their homes and fields destroyed by these thugs.  But hey, that's what the world expects now from the "Assassination Nation of the Middle East", FKI (formerly known as Israel), don't we?!?!?

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday went after China for its trade relationship with Russia, saying Beijing must reduce its trade with Moscow to have good relations with the West.

Western officials often accuse China of supporting Russia’s military, but there’s no evidence of Beijing shipping weapons. Instead, they point to China’s export of semiconductors and raw materials.

“Russia’s friends in Asia are vital for its war effort. First and foremost, China. China is propping up Russia’s war economy,” Stoltenberg said. “Sharing high-end technology like semiconductors and other dual-use items with Russia. Last year, Russia imported 90 percent of its micro-electronics from China. Used to produce missiles, tanks, and aircraft.”

Stoltenberg also accused China of “fueling” the war even though Beijing has consistently called for peace talks while the US and leading NATO countries have discouraged diplomacy and have dumped tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons into Ukraine.

“China says it wants good relations with the West. At the same time, Beijing continues to fuel the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War Two. They cannot have it both ways,” Stoltenberg said.

Claire's Observations:  I am having a palm to forehead moment, at warp speed, upon reading this. People in Beijing have to be laughing their collective heads off, as it is the US/NATO contingency which has been goading Ukraine to continue this absolutely no-win conflict with Russia.   

And Sec-Gen Stoltenberg, let me do a reality check here, because it is apparent that yours has "bounced" with these statements to China's leadership;  is it NOT the US and NATO which have been encouraging Ukraine to continue this deadly, meat-grinder of a war, replete with bombs bullets,  and cash, which they ultimately will not win?!?  

Just checking, sir!!!

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Echoing President Biden, Netanyahu labeled the demonstrations 'antisemitic' by Dave DeCamp April 24, 2024 at 3:18 pm ET Categories NewsTags Israel, Palestine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called for a crackdown on Americans protesting against Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza at college campuses across the United States.

“What’s happening in America’s college campuses is horrific. Antisemitic mobs have taken over leading universities,” Netanyahu said. His comments echoed President Biden, who labeled the demonstrations “antisemitic protests.”

At some American universities, police have arrested and dispersed protesters, but Netanyahu said more should be done. “Now, fortunately, state, local, federal officials, many of them have responded differently but there has to be more. More has to be done,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid also called for a crackdown on the protests. “What’s happening on American college campuses is unforgivable,” he wrote on X. “It is antisemitism, it is support for terrorism, it is support for Hamas which murders LGBT people and oppresses women. The administration cannot stand by, it has to intervene.”

Texas state troopers broke up a protest at Texas University in Austin on Wednesday and reportedly arrested at least 10 students. The protesters were demanding that the university divest from manufacturing companies that supply weapons to the Israeli military.

Israel supporters in the US have also falsely labeled the demonstrations across the country as “antisemitic,” but many Jewish students are involved in pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses, including at the protest at Columbia University. Netanyahu took the smear a step further and claimed the protesters wanted to “kill Jews.”

Claire's Observations:  Mr. Prime Minister, a word, please.  What these kids are protesting, is NOT an adherence to the Jewish faith; they are protesting against the consistent genocidal slaughter of Palestinians (primarily women and children) by the IDF.

When your government set upon a policy of conflating "self defense" with "assassination of every Palestinian breathing", you lost a great deal of people, internationally, who had previously been ardent supporters of the "Israeli Experiment": I frankly don't know if Israel can survive, if Iran is attacked, and China and Russia decide to come to its aid against Israel, using a full complement of their collective military prowess.

Sir, respectfully, right now, you cannot begin to "change the subject" from genocide to anti-Semitism.  The gritty, horrific images, taken by some very ballsy war photographers, are witness to the world as to what you are doing in Gaza, and there is only one, terrible word for it;  genocide.

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by Dave DeCamp

Mortar rounds were fired at Israeli forces making preparations for a US-built pier in Gaza on Wednesday, highlighting the danger of the project to the US troops that are involved.

US officials blamed the attack on “Gaza-based militants” and said no American equipment was damaged. The attack came as US forces started construction of the pier off the coast of Gaza.

“I can confirm that US military vessels, to include the USNS Benavidez, have begun to construct the initial stages of the temporary pier and causeway at sea,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said on Thursday.

Ryder said that the mortar attack targeted a “marshaling area” for the pier. “We’re aware of reports that a small number of mortars landed in the vicinity of the marshalling yard area for humanitarian assistance that will eventually be the delivery site that this pier will support,” he said.

US officials insist the US military personnel will stay hundreds of meters offshore, but that puts them easily in range of Hamas rockets. A successful attack on US troops could lead to a major escalation of US involvement in the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza.

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Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels may have launched attacks on two vessels transiting southwest of Mukha, a port city on the highly contested southern Red Sea. 

Bloomberg says the UK Navy has confirmed two attacks on vessels in a series of headlines hitting the Terminal around 1400 ET. 


There are also reports that one of the vessels is "damaged." 


The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations confirmed an incident 14 nautical miles from Mukha earlier. 

The Houthis, who support the Palestinian terror group Hamas, have been launching drone and missile attacks on Western vessels since November, disrupting a critical maritime chokepoint known as "Bab-el-Mandeb Strait." 

About a week ago, 16 maritime industry associations and social partners co-signed an open letter to the United Nations urging increased military patrols on heavily traveled shipping routes. This comes after commandos seized a container ship affiliated with Israel as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz two weeks ago. 

We have diligently published notes highlighting how maritime chokepoints across the Middle East are under threat, including the Suez Canal, Bab-El Mandeb Strait, and Strait of Hormuz, through which a quarter of all global trade flows. 

The Red Sea disruption is far from over. The United States and its allies in the West are losing the battle in defending the world's major shipping lanes, as Biden's Operation Prosperity Guardian has been an absolute failure. 

All of this symbolizes the world fracturing into a multipolar state, one full of chaos. And it will only get worse from here, hence why military spending worldwide is in a massive bull market.

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Via The Cradle

The government of US President Joe Biden has decided against imposing sanctions on Israeli army units responsible for human rights violations against Palestinians, despite initial plans to do so. 

ABC News reported on Friday that a government assessment determined that three battalions in the Israeli army committed “gross human rights violations” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank “but will remain eligible for US military aid regardless because of steps Israel says it’s taking to address the problem.” 

Image source: NY Times

The assessment, which has not been made public, was outlined in a letter written by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to House Speaker Mike Johnson, which the news network obtained. 

The rights violations committed by Israeli forces “will not delay the delivery of any US assistance and Israel will be able to receive the full amount appropriated by Congress.” Billions in US aid to Israel was approved by Biden just two days ago after passing in the Senate on Tuesday.

The violations in question were committed prior to October 7 and took place in the occupied West Bank. They include the execution of Palestinians by Israeli border police, as well as torture and rape during interrogation. 

None are related to Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, the majority of whom were women and children. 

Yet the decision is expected to frustrate many critics of the Biden administration who believe Washington has not done enough to hold Israel accountable for war crimes. Under the US Leahy Law, Washington should withhold military aid to states committing severe human rights abuses. Yet the law allows exceptions if measures are taken to punish those responsible

An informed source told ABC that Israel and the US have a “special agreement” that Washington must consult with Tel Aviv over any decision relating to foreign assistance. The source added that these consultations are ongoing. 

Blinken’s letter states that four of the Israeli army units have undergone “remediation” steps, meaning that those within the units that are responsible for the crimes have been internally held accountable. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on April 21: “If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit of the IDF, I will fight it with all my strength.”

According to Hebrew news site Ynet, Israeli pressure on the US helped shape the decision not to impose sanctions on the units. “The reasonable estimate is that we will be able to convince the US not to impose these sanctions,” an Israeli official told the outlet

Claire's Observations:  I am betting right now, that the people responsible for these outrages of   "... execution of Palestinians by Israeli border police, as well as torture and rape during interrogation." will not get the proverbial "slap on the wrist", but will ultimately get promoted for their extrajudicial savagery; after all, the Middle East's Assassination Nation, FKI (formerly known as Israel)  LOVES to see this kind of behaviour visited upon all Palestinians!!!!!!!!!

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Who could have seen that coming? (here, here, here, and most detailed here)

Admittedly, we were a couple of weeks off, but trouble has been brewing in the banking sector and tonight - after the close - we get the first bank failure of the year.

The FDIC just seized the troubled Philadelphia bank, Republic First Bancorp and and struck an agreement for the lender’s deposits and the majority of its assets to be bought by Fulton Bank.

Republic Bank had about $6 billion of assets and $4 billion of deposits at the end of January, according to the FDIC (considerably smaller than the $100-200BN assets with SVB and Signature).

The FDIC estimated the failure will cost the deposit insurance fund $667 million.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Republic First had for months struggled to stay afloat.

Around half of its deposits were uninsured at the end of 2023, according to FDIC data. 

Its total equity, or assets minus liabilities, was $96 million at the end of 2023, according to FDIC filings.

That excluded $262 million of unrealized losses on bonds that it labeled “held to maturity,” which means the losses hadn’t counted on its balance sheet.

Its stock, which was de listed from NASDAQ in August, had been near zero.

Republic Bank’s 32 branches across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York will reopen as branches of Fulton Bank on Saturday, according to a statement from the FDIC.

Depositors of Republic Bank will become depositors of Williamsport, Pennsylvania-based Fulton Bank, the regulator said.

You should not be surprised given that rates are higher now than they were at the start of the SVB crisis - which means, unless banks have hedged hard or dumped their bonds at a loss, they are even more underwater.

Claire's Observations:  This may have been the first bank failure of 2024, but it most certainly will not be the last.  Try your best to understand the financial health of the institution in which you have your accounts; and if things look "wanky" you had best move your money into an institution with a more solid track record and trajectory.  

And if this seems like a too overwhelming a task, the following articles may be helpful:





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Authored by Eric Lundrum via American Greatness,

With the November election less than 7 months away, mainstream media outlets are now choosing to misrepresent the current state of crime in the United States, claiming that crime is declining without providing full context or key details.

As the Daily Caller reports, there are two ways in which the federal government measures crime in the United States: The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR).

Whereas the NCVS asks roughly 240,000 Americans whether or not they’ve been a victim of crime in the last year, the UCR focuses on crimes that have been reported to police within the last year and shared with the FBI.

While more people are reporting to the BJS that they have been the victims of crime, the FBI is reporting fewer crimes through the UCR.

The UCR claims that violent crime dropped by 2% from 2021 to 2022, while the NCVS shows the exact opposite, reporting that the number of victims of violent crime increased by a staggering 42.4% from 2021 to 2022; this constitutes a rise from 16.5 victims per 1,000 people to 23.5 victims per 1,000.

Nevertheless, many mainstream media outlets such as CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR, Reuters, and The Hill have all turned to the FBI’s data to claim, falsely, that crime is on the decline. All such reports have failed to mention the crucial data from the NCVS.

Even Joe Biden himself has turned to deliberately misrepresenting the facts by relying solely on the FBI’s data.

“This week, the FBI released data showing that crime declined across nearly every category in 2023,” said Biden recently.

“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, which every Republican in Congress voted against, we made the largest-ever federal investment in fighting and preventing crime at any time in our history.”

This directly contradicts broad public sentiment in the United States, with a Gallup poll in December finding that 77% of Americans believe crime is getting worse

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Authored by Steve Watson via Modernity.news,

UCLA medical school is under fire for forcing students to attend ‘health equity’ classes where ‘fat positivity’ is promoted, and reading material claims that the medical term ‘obesity’ is a slur “used to exact violence on fat people.”

Yes, really.

The Washington Free Beacon obtained the  entire syllabus for the mandatory course, titled Structural Racism and Health Equity, which one medical expert who has reviewed it describes as “education designed to ideologically indoctrinate physician-activists.”

As part of the required course, all first year medical students are made to read an essay by ‘fat liberationist’ Marquisele Mercedes (pictured), who uses made up terms like “fatphobia” to argue that the medical profession is biased against fat people, and that trying to lose weight to be more healthy is a “hopeless endeavor” because it is a disability that cannot be reversed.

Claire's Observations:  Ms. Mercedes, a question, please:  where is the science behind that last statement that being overweight "is a disability that cannot be reversed."?!?  THAT is a study I would very much like to see!!

Because as far as know, the verdict on being overweight is in, and it includes cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and a host of other problems too numerous to mention.  Or has your declaration about being overweight being"... a disability that cannot be reversed"  magically changed the mountain of data which proves the converse?!?!?!?  Just doing a reality check, thanks!!  :-)

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The solution to a problem shouldn’t make the problem worse.

But apparently, California’s policy makers missed that memo.

On April 1st, the state instituted a $20 minimum wage for fast food workers, the highest in the US. With California’s absurdly high cost of living, the policy appeared to make life more manageable for low-income residents. Unfortunately, as the adage goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” California’s new minimum wage is poised to hurt the same fast-food workers it aims to help.

The Economic Problem of a Minimum Wage

The counterproductivity of a minimum wage is demonstrated by a simple analysis of the labor market. Companies “purchase” labor from workers through a wage. The more value a worker adds to a company, the more they will be paid. If employers are allowed to set wages freely, and the labor market is competitive, workers can expect to be paid close to their value added to the company.

A minimum wage hijacks this process. If a worker is worth $15 an hour to an employer, but a $20 minimum wage is introduced, the company will no longer hire the worker, and both parties are harmed. A $20 wage floor means that workers must at least add that much value to the company. For many laborers, this means saying goodbye to their industry and hello to unemployment.

The Effects of California’s Minimum Wage

The ripple effects of California’s $20 minimum wage have proved these dismal predictions all too true. Several chains, including Pizza Hut and Starbucks, have laid off workers in response to the wage increase. Michaela Mendelsohn, the CEO of El Pollo Loco, claimed the company would have to reduce employee hours due to increased labor costs. McDonald’s employees are likewise seeing their hours substantially reduced. In the tight margins of the fast-food industry, where even a small increase in the price of labor can destabilize a production chain, the effects of the wage hike have been exacerbated.

Fast-food workers are particularly susceptible to layoffs because of the rise of automation within the industry. Automation creates a simple alternative for companies struggling to meet the wage requirement. Many fast-food restaurants have already implemented mobile ordering stations, and if labor costs continue to rise, the incentive to further automate will increase. Restaurants around the world have already introduced machines to replace waiters, cashiers, and cooks.

A higher wage also increases the risk of hiring new, untested workers. In service industries, such as fast food, it can be difficult to distinguish the productivity of individual workers. It can take a while to find the weak link at the root of a location’s unproductivity, and this delay equals lost revenue. While an untested applicant may potentially boost productivity, a heightened minimum wage increases the risk of giving that worker a chance.

Proponents of the new minimum wage argue that food chains will absorb the wage increase by raising prices. Some companies, such as Chipotle and Jack in the Box, have already raised their California prices in response to the new policy. However, this is not a concrete solution. Any price increase will necessarily decrease consumer demand, which could harm profits further. A step too far and the workers’ already dire plight will be exacerbated.

If California’s economic and political conditions continue to worsen, many franchises might simply leave the state. While California has a massive potential market, if labor costs become prohibitively high, chains could simply focus their resources on more economically-friendly states. Leading the way are MOD Pizza and Starbucks, who respectively closed five and seven of their California locations in April.

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by Tyler Durden

President Joe Biden has the worst job approval rating since Eisenhower during his recently completed 13th quarter in office, according to a new poll by Gallup.

While Biden clocks in at 38.7%, the previous low was set by George H.W. Bush at 41.8% in 1992. Donald Trump and Barack Obama averaged 46.8% and 45.9% respectively during the same point in their presidencies. Prior to Bush, Jimmy Carter is the only other president with a sub-50% average in his 13th quarter.

Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush averaged between 51% and 55% approval in their 13th quarters, while Dwight Eisenhower had the highest average for a president during his 13th month at 73.2%.

What's more, Biden's most recent approval rating places him 277 out of 314 presidential quarters in Gallup history dating back to 1945, placing him in the bottom 12% of all presidential quarters. Biden's score is technically the lowest of his presidency, which has been dragging in the low 40% range since Q4 of his term.

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Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times,

A San Diego County official has branded the city the “new epicenter” for illegal immigration and claimed that Border Patrol has become “the ‘Uber’ for migrants” entering the county.

“San Diego is the new epicenter for migrants and illegal immigration,” San Diego District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond posted on the social media platform X on April 25.

“The surge in illegal crossings has propelled San Diego to the unfortunate position of leading all nine southern border sectors in April, a trend unseen since the 1990s.”

On Wednesday alone, Border Patrol apprehended 2,000 illegal immigrants within the San Diego sector, according to Mr. Desmond. Among them were 206 Chinese nationals, he said.

Since Oct. 1st, there have been nearly 215,000 apprehensions representing individuals from 75 different countries in the San Diego sector, Mr. Desmond wrote in the post.

“Moreover, the closure of the processing center has led to over 30,000 migrant drop-offs in the past two months alone, with projections of more than 1,000 drop-offs expected today,” he continued.

“This doesn’t account for the frequent occurrences of boats washing ashore, averaging three to four incidents weekly. ”

Mr. Desmond appeared to be referencing the $6 million Migrant Welcome Center that shut down in San Diego in February due to a lack of funding.

The District 5 supervisor went on to state that human smugglers have identified California—and in particular the San Diego border sector—as “the path of least resistance” for illegal immigrants.

“Border Patrol has inadvertently become the ‘Uber’ for migrants entering San Diego County, and the County is the travel agent,” he concluded.

Illegal immigrants ‘Just Walking Across the Border’

Speaking to Newsnation later on April 25, Mr. Desmond claimed that people are “just walking across the border” and Border Patrol agents “are not empowered to stop them.”

“All they’re doing is processing them once they ... walk across the border,” he told the publication.

The Epoch Times has reached out to San Diego Border Patrol for further comment.

Mr. Desmond’s comments come after he and other San Diego County leaders called on the state and federal governments to bolster security at the border and remove sanctuary city policies amid the ongoing immigration crisis.

Speaking at a press conference alongside several mayors on April 15 near Carlsbad State Beach, Mr. Desmond said more than 125,000 illegal immigrants have entered since September, of which more than 25,000 had been released onto the streets in the past two months.

The county official stressed those figures did not include known “gotaways,” those known to have entered the country illegally while evading Border Patrol.

He further blamed California’s sanctuary city policies for prohibiting law enforcement agencies from working with Immigration Customs and Enforcement to hand over illegal immigrants, even if they are identified as suspects in crimes other than entering the United States illegally.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, on April 17, 2024. (Travis Gillmore/The Epoch Times)

Claire's Observations:  Please remember:  should "Gruesome Newsom "hop on " the Dementocrat's Presidential candidacy train in 2024 or 2028, he will do to this nation..... precisely what he has done to California

And as a native San Franciscan, I week for that damage, which may well prove irreparable.

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Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org,

Earlier this month the White House published its new “Pandemic Preparedness” targets.

They are far from alone in covering this. Back in March, Sky News was asking“Next pandemic is around the corner,’ expert warns – but would lockdown ever happen again?”

On April 3rd, the Financial Times asked something similar“The next pandemic is coming. Will we be ready?”

Less than an hour ago, the Daily Mail invited us inside “the world’s deadliest cave that could cause the next pandemic”.

Just two days ago a professional panic spreader wrote for CNN:

The next pandemic threat demands action now!!!

OK, I added the exclamation points, but they are very much implied in the original text.

So, while Iran and Israel rattle their sabres on the front pages, I thought we should take a look at the quieter back pages to see what we can learn, and help us predict how “the next pandemic” will unfold.


I mean…I feel like that’s fairly self-explanatory.

Seriously though, it’s the one they’ve been predicting from pretty much the moment Covid started. First it was going to be monkey pox – sorry MPox – but that fizzled.

Of course by “pandemic”, we really mean “psy-op”, because nothing about the next pandemic will be any more real than the last pandemic. Hell, given the leaps forward in AI technology, it could be considerably less real next time.

We don’t know any of the details yet, but there’s enough vague coverage to tease out some guesstimates.


Probably the most important question. We already mentioned monkey pox, but that doesn’t look likely anymore.

Right now they are mostly talking about “disease X” – a term which caused a little panic in certain sections when it first appeared on the scene – but that isn’t some top secret gain of function super disease, it’s literally a place holder name.

And it’s a placeholder name which does its job, for the time being.

After all, they don’t really need an actual name yet, any more than they need an actual disease, they just need the idea of a disease to hold over people’s heads while they construct the legislative rules of their health-based tyranny.

Indeed, the vagueness “Disease X” provides is helpful, as it keeps the legislation vague too.

That said, they will likely want and/or need to produce an actual disease at some point.

When that time comes around, it will almost certainly be another respiratory disease, because they are easy to “fake” using pre-existing endemic diseases and their uniform symptoms.

The prime candidate is bird flu, which has been slow-boiling in the news for two years now and has recently got a big uptick in coverage due to it allegedly passing to people from cows.

The UN reports “pandemic experts” are “concerned over avian influenza spread to humans”. Just yesterday, Jeremy Farrar of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that “[the] threat Of Bird Flu spreading to Humans is a great concern”

Prompting gleefully sensationalist headlines like this from the Daily Star:

New pandemic ‘expected’ as human-to-human bird flu of ‘great concern’ to WHO

Bird flu is a convenient pick because it enables them to push their health tyranny and their food transition at the same time. They can claim that dairy, beef, chicken and eggs have become “dangerous” as an excuse to ration them or at least force scarcity while they drive the prices up.

They will then push the idea that veganism and/or lab grown meat “prevents pandemics”. Something they’ve been claiming since at least 2021.

The Daily Mail reported just a few hours ago:

H5N1 strain of bird flu is found in MILK for first time in ‘very high concentrations,’ World Health Organization warns

The downside to bird flu is that it’s hard to work the climate change angle into the narrative, so maybe they’ll go with something else.

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Authored by Darlene McCormick Sanchez via The Epoch Times 

Conservative states across the country—Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and Oklahoma—are taking border security matters into their own hands, proposing or passing legislation targeting illegal immigration.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock, Getty Images)

The Oklahoma legislature just passed a bill designed to prohibit illegal immigrants from entering or living in the state.

HB 4156 states: “A person commits an impermissible occupation if the person is an alien and willfully and without permission enters and remains in the State of Oklahoma without having first obtained legal authorization to enter the United States.”

The bill passed the state House and Senate by wide margins and Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, is expected to sign it into law.

The legislature declared the issue a crisis in the state and stated in the bill: “Throughout the state, law enforcement comes into daily and increasingly frequent contact with foreign nationals who entered the country illegally or who remain here illegally.

Often, these persons are involved with organized crime such as drug cartels, they have no regard for Oklahoma’s laws or public safety, and they produce or are involved with fentanyl distribution, sex trafficking, and labor trafficking.”

Under the new law, a conviction related to “impermissible occupation” would be considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in a county jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.

Subsequent offenses are felonies, punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Illegal immigrants who are barred from the country or have been issued a removal order by an immigration judge, and then enter Oklahoma will face a felony charge carrying a possible sentence of up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

In all instances, those found guilty must leave Oklahoma within 72 hours of being convicted or released from custody.

A prison cell block at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., on July 16, 2015. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

The law requires police to collect fingerprints, photographs, and biometric data, which will be cross-checked with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation databases.

The failure of the federal government to address this issue … has turned every state into a border state,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Charles Mr. McCall said in a statement.

“Those who want to work through the process of coming to our country legally are more than welcome to come to Oklahoma; we would love to have them here. We will not reward [illegal immigration] in Oklahoma, and we will protect our state borders.”

U.S. border authorities have apprehended more than 9 million illegal immigrants nationwide under President Joe Biden, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

Under the administration’s catch-and-release policy, many have been released into the United States and have taken up residence all over the country.

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The Victorian era was a time of contradictory ideals: they covered themselves fully but considered the female figure attractive, they were obsessed with cleanliness but practically lived in a sewer, and they placed marriage and family above all things. Gave importance but sold their wives at auction. It's possible that the Victorians couldn't see the forest for the trees, but perhaps they were a generation full of weirdos.


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