WILL BE BACK LIVE MONDAY!
"I have a serious drinking problem. My wife won't let me drink!" -- Michael Rivero
Two decades ago, I sabotaged my career at The New York Times. It was a conscious choice. I had spent seven years in the Middle East, four of them as the Middle East Bureau Chief. I was an Arabic speaker. I believed, like nearly all Arabists, including most of those in the State Department and the C.I.A., that a “preemptive” war against Iraq would be the most costly strategic blunder in American history.
It would also constitute what the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg called the “supreme international crime.” While Arabists in official circles were muzzled, I was not. I was invited by them to speak at The State Department, The United States Military Academy at West Point and to senior Marine Corps officers scheduled to be deployed to Kuwait to prepare for the invasion.
Mine was not a popular view nor one a reporter, rather than an opinion columnist, was permitted to express publicly according to the rules laid down by the newspaper. But I had experience that gave me credibility and a platform. I had reported extensively from Iraq. I had covered numerous armed conflicts, including the first Gulf War and the Shi’ite uprising in southern Iraq where I was taken prisoner by The Iraqi Republican Guard.
I easily dismantled the lunacy and lies used to promote the war, especially as I had reported on the destruction of Iraq’s chemical weapons stockpiles and facilities by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspection teams. I had detailed knowledge of how degraded the Iraqi military had become under U.S. sanctions. Besides, even if Iraq did possess “weapons of mass destruction” that would not have been a legal justification for war.
It's a surprise that Reuters has published an article revealing that the electric vehicle revolution might not be as environmentally friendly as automakers claim. Furthermore, a scratched or slightly damaged battery pack could lead insurance companies to scrap the entire car.
"We're buying electric cars for sustainability reasons," Matthew Avery, research director at automotive risk intelligence company Thatcham Research, said.
Avery pointed out, "an EV isn't very sustainable if you've got to throw the battery away after a minor collision."
A Tesla battery pack costs tens of thousands of dollars and represents a large percentage of the vehicle's price tag. Insurance companies have found that it's uneconomical to replace battery packs if damaged.
Many automotive manufacturers, including Tesla, have made battery packs a structural part of the car to reduce cost products but have shifted costs to consumers and insurers when batteries need to be replaced.
Unless carmakers produce more easily repairable battery packs, there will be a growing number of low-mileage EVs scrapped after collisions.
North Korean state media has been touting new claims of mass enlistments amid "an atmosphere of war" and urgent defense preparedness in response to ongoing joint US-South Korea drills, which are the largest in five years.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) initially over the weekend cited a figure of 800,000 citizens having newly signed up for military service, most of them young people, while other state-linked sources are saying it's well over one million enlistees. By Monday the number jumped significantly to claims of around 1.4 million people enlisting.
Having earlier issued his first veto since taking office, rejecting a bill that would have reversed a Labor Department rule on ESG investing, President Biden signed a bipartisan bill late on Monday that directs the federal government to declassify as much intelligence as possible about the origins of COVID-19.
His signature follows both the House and Senate unanimously approving of the measure, a rare moment of overwhelming bipartisan consensus.
The vote tallies meant that the measure would likely have survived a presidential veto had Biden opted to withhold his signature.
Biden, in a statement, said he was pleased to sign the legislation.
“My Administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said.
"In implementing this legislation, my administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security."
The Soviet economy was wasteful and chaotic.
Besançon believed that economic planning induced irrationality in the system.
Terrified managers couldn’t report failing the plan, and consequently any subsequent economic planning would be even more divorced from reality than previous planning had been.
Both Besançon and Mises knew that socialism could not discover market prices. Both knew that this would lead to widespread corruption. However, Besançon realized that the state not only tolerated but also used the black market for price discovery in economic sectors critical to the regime, like defense and certain prestigious cultural and sport endeavors (Bolshoi Theatre, gymnastics, eventually hockey, etc.).
However, there is a critical difference between Mises and Besançon. While Mises believed that the goal of the Soviet economy was to produce usable goods and services, Besançon believed otherwise. The Soviet economy, he posited, was never about producing goods and services for consumers, but rather had other goals.
Ordinary Americans can expect their wealth to get repeatedly chipped away as the monetary system degrades and requires progressively more intervention by authorities to perpetuate itself, according to an influential author and economist. It may take “a very long time,” however, for the system to actually break, he told The Epoch Times.
The recent downfall of two sizable American banks, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and First Republic Bank, rattled the financial markets. Investors are now looking to the Federal Reserve to provide relief and within months reverse its policy of raising interest rates. That’s after the central bank, together with the Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), already shored up the banking sector, offering special loans and guaranteeing uninsured deposits for the failed banks.
The failures, however, represent a symptom of a broader problem—one the central bank can’t fix, according to Daniel Lacalle, fund manager, economist, and prolific author.
“The problem here is the concept of ‘what can be done?’” he said, arguing central bank market interventions intended to smooth over market perturbations tend to simply redistribute the risk and losses—and at the added cost of making the system more fragile in the long run.
As the old saw goes, a banker is someone who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and then wants it back as soon as the first drops of rain fall.
Hostility toward money lenders goes way back. In the Middle Ages in Europe, to deposit your money with one was unlawful, “even as it would be unlawful to deposit one’s sword with a madman, a maiden with a libertine, or food with a glutton.”
Loans may no longer be against the law, but bankers have been, and still are, convenient villains in popular culture.
In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” for example, old man Henry Potter mocked George Bailey’s just-deceased father by remarking that “ideals without common sense can ruin this town.” And he said of George issuing a loan to his friend Ernie, Bedford Falls’s cabby, “You see, if you shoot pool with some employee here, you can come and borrow money.”
Were the now-failed Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank acting sensibly or madly? And did they shoot pool with powerful Washington figures in hopes that they could avoid ruin despite their lack of sense?
The US provided India with unprecedented intelligence-sharing during a clash between Indian and Chinese troops in December 2022 along the disputed border high in the Himalayas, known as the Line of Actual Control, US News reported on Monday.
The report cited current and former US officials who said the intelligence sharing was possible thanks to a military pact Washington and New Delhi signed in 2020, known as the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). The deal was inked following deadly clashes between Chinese and Indian troops along the LAC in the Galwan Valley that killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops.
Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will lead a delegation to mainland China next week in an effort to improve cross-strait relations as tensions are soaring in the region.
The trip will be historic as no Taiwanese president, whether former or sitting, has visited China since Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang (KMT) forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 following their defeat in the civil war against the Communist Party of China.
Today, the KMT is the main opposition party and favors friendlier relations with Beijing than the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP and President Tsai Ing-wen have taken steps to significantly boost ties with the US, resulting in more Chinese military pressure on the island, making a conflict seem much more likely.
China has increased purchases of Russian oil and gas in the year since Russia invaded Ukraine and the energy relationship between the two countries will be an important topic when presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping meet in Moscow this week.
Here are some facts about their energy ties.
- Russia's Gazprom supplies gas to China through a 3,000 km (1,865 mile) pipeline called Power of Siberia under a 30-year, $400 billion deal launched at the end of 2019. In 2022 exports amounted to about 15.5 billion cubic meters (bcm). They are planned to increase to 22 bcm in 2023 and reach full capacity of 38 bcm by 2027. In February 2022, China also agreed to buy up to 10 bcm of gas annually by around 2026 via a pipeline from Russia's far east island of Sakhalin. Russia's gas exports to China are still a small fraction of the record 177 bcm it delivered to Europe in 2018-19. Since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022, volumes to Europe have shrunk, reaching about 62 bcm in 2022.
The United States and Philippines will announce new sites as soon as possible for an expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which gives the Western power access to military bases in the Southeast Asian country.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr last month granted the United States access to four military bases, on top of five existing locations under the 2014 EDCA, which comes amid China's increasing assertiveness towards the South China Sea and self-ruled Taiwan.
Speaking at the Basa Air Base in Manila, one of the existing EDCA sites, visiting U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the defence agreements between the two countries were "not focused on any particular issue."
-Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the chief justice of Pakistan to allow him to appear for court proceedings virtually to reduce the risk of any threat to his life, he said in a video message on Monday, as his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party prepared for a rally in Lahore on Wednesday.
Supporters of Khan's party, clashed with police in the city of Lahore last week as they attempted to arrest him at his home, and later with police in Islamabad as he arrived to appear before a court on Saturday.
"My life is in danger, why must I appear in court," said Khan in a live video stream, asking to appear by video conference for court proceedings and vowing: "I will appear for all cases".
On Sunday, March 19, Palestinian Authority (PA), Israeli, American, and Jordanian representatives met in Egypt’s city of Sharm El-Sheikh. The March meeting was preceded by an earlier summit held in Aqaba, Jordan on February 26, which was immediately derailed a few hours later by a Palestinian shooting in Huwwara and a subsequent settler rampage that burned over 70 houses in the Palestinian town.
The period since then has been punctuated by a string of Israeli assassination missions and army raids, as well as a number of Palestinian resistance operations. In the wake of the ongoing Israeli onslaught, Israeli and PA representatives gathered once again this past weekend at Sharm el-Sheikh to put a stop to the rising tide of Palestinian revolt.
While details of the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting have been sparse, another resistance shooting took place in Huwwara, injuring two Israeli settlers, as the conference took place. The shooting solidified the Palestinian town as the graveyard of the recent diplomatic efforts to calm the rising tensions.
Speaking to a gathering of right-wing Jews in Paris yesterday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich categorically denied the existence of Palestinians, saying that “there’s no such thing as “Palestinian people.” The statement came during a speech where Smotrich outlined his belief that Israel has exclusive Jewish, God-ordained rights to the land, and the lectern was adorned with a map of Israel that included the occupied Palestinian territory and the country of Jordan as part of Israeli territory.
Postcard from Golda Meir showing Palestine as her address.