State of the Union (SOTU) addresses tend to include laundry lists of proposals that will never see the light today and Tuesday’s speech will probably be similar to past speeches, but President Joe Biden’s speech could be notable and potentially market moving for a few reasons.
President Biden’s SOTU speech will probably serve as an unofficial launch of his 2024 reelection campaign. As such, the speech could include several themes that might reappear during the campaign. President Biden will likely try to position himself as a champion of the middle class and as part of this effort, he could use various sectors as foils to show he is on the side of average Americans and against Big Business. The technology and the banking industries could be mentioned in the speech. A focus on tech regulation in the president’s address could include mentions of the administration’s antitrust initiatives, privacy protection, and possibly revisions to liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Regarding banks, the president could reiterate calls on banking regulators to review merger rules. He could also highlight the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) recent proposal to cap credit card late fees and push for a similar cap on overdraft fees.
The president is likely to take a victory lap on his legislative victories in 2022 including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the CHIPS Act. In addition to highlighting the two new laws, Mr. Biden might also push for an expansion of some of the IRA’s climate provisions including expanding electric vehicle tax credits. However, in the current political environment, any expansion of EV credits seems unlikely.
Webmaster addition: "Everything bad is Trump's fault!"
The scars that have been left on all of us by the response to COVID are incomprehensibly varied and deep.
For most, there hasn’t been enough time to mentally process the significance of the initial lockdowns, let alone the years-long slog of mandates, terror, propaganda, social stigmatization and censorship that followed. And this psychological trauma affects us in myriad ways that leave us wondering what it is about life that just feels so off versus how it felt in 2019.
For those who were following the real data, the statistics were always horrifying.
Trillions of dollars rapidly transferred from the world’s poorest to the richest. Hundreds of millions hungry. Countless years of educational attainment lost. An entire generation of children and adolescents robbed of some of their brightest years. A mental health crisis affecting more than a quarter of the population. Drug overdoses. Hospital abuse. Elder abuse. Domestic abuse. Millions of excess deaths among young people which couldn’t be attributed to the virus.
But underneath these statistics lie billions of individual human stories, each unique in its details and perspectives. These individual stories and anecdotes are only just beginning to surface, and I believe that hearing them is a vital step in processing everything that we’ve experienced over the past three years.
I recently sent out a query on Twitter as to how people had been affected by the response to COVID at an individual level. The conversation that emerged is a luminating and haunting reflection of what each of us experienced over the past three years. Below is a tiny selection of the responses that I found especially powerful.
In the newest indication of headwinds facing Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign, the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity has indicated it will oppose his drive to return to the White House.
While the group didn't mention Trump by name, its rhetoric in a memo posted on Sunday to the AFP website left no doubt about the powerful, Koch-backed political group's stance on his campaign:
"To write a new chapter for our country, we need to turn the page on the past. So the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter. The American people have shown that they’re ready to move on, and so AFP will help them do that."
News that the Pentagon was tracking a Chinese communist spy balloon hovering over the United States this week is raising concerns about the extent of China’s espionage efforts against America and its citizens.
But just how far is the regime willing to go in order to spy on and undermine the United States?
The espionage efforts of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, go much broader and deeper than mere sensor balloons. Such efforts include human intelligence gathering, transnational repression schemes, cyber theft and hacking, intellectual property theft, and even the harvesting of Americans’ genetic material.
In the words of one retired Air Force General, “If [the CCP has] any access to American society, then they’ll use that access to undermine American society.”
Webmaster addition: Actually, it is Israel that does the most spying inside our borders. Remember the "Art Students" just prior to 9-11?
Clearly we are seeing a demonization of China in an attempt to shift public awareness from the looming disaster in Ukraine onto a "threat" from China; using a new war to cover up the failure of a previous war (remember when the US invaded Grenada to distract from the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut? Or Bill Clinton's cruise missile attacks just days after being forced to admit his sexual relation with Monica Lewinsky?)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in an interview posted to his YouTube channel on Saturday that the US and its Western allies “blocked” his efforts of mediating between Russia and Ukraine to bring an end to the war in its early days.
On March 4, 2022, Bennett traveled to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. In the interview, he detailed his mediation at the time between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he said he coordinated with the US, France, Germany, and the UK.
Bennett said that both sides agreed to major concessions during his mediation effort. For the Russian side, he said they dropped “denazification” as a requirement for a ceasefire. Bennett defined “denazification” as the removal of Zelensky. During his meeting in Moscow with Putin, Bennett said the Russian leader guaranteed that he wouldn’t try to kill Zelensky.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday projected that the country’s gas demand would rise 500% due to the rapid pace of development, while its share of global oil demand would more than double.
While the Indian prime minister did not offer a specific time frame for this major boost in demand, he said that the country’s energy demand would be highest in the present decade.
Modi’s statement, delivered during the opening ceremony of India Energy Week 2023, coincides with a recent OPEC report that expects India to be the largest contributor to incremental demand, with the country expected to add some 6.3 million bpd until 2045.
Overall, OPEC said it saw demand increasing to 110 million bpd in 2045, up from 97 million bpd in 2021.
Modi predicts India’s share in global oil demand will increase from 5% to 11%.
Let me start by expressing my heartfelt remorse for the suffering of the people of Turkey in the aftermath of the horrific earthquake. Losing homes and loved ones in the midst of winter is a genuine nightmare.
Thanks to former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett we now know that Washington and London sabotaged diplomatic efforts to end the Special Military Operation in Ukraine. The West made the stupid bet that Russia could be defeated through a combination of economic sanctions, propaganda and military aid for Ukraine. The Americans and their NATO partners bet the lives of Ukrainians on their imperialist dream and now are becoming more desperate trying to fend off the looming defeat that confronts Ukraine and, by extension, NATO.
The West has poked the Russian bear and are having great difficulty coming to grips with the reality that Russia is not impotent and Putin is not on his last legs. To the contrary, the failed Western strategy has awakened the Russians and cemented their resolve to defeat the NATO threat. Take a look at Putin’s recent remarks commemorating Russia’s victory at Stalingrad 80 years ago. It remains a fresh memory for the Russian people.
After a devastating earthquake hit Syria and Turkey, killing thousands of people, the US State Department showed no interest in lifting crippling economic sanctions on Syria that are specifically designed to prevent the country’s reconstruction.
As of Monday night, the earthquake has killed at least 2,921 people in Turkey and 1,444 in northwest Syria, including in Syrian government-controlled territory and areas controlled by anti-government fighters.
The Syrian Health Ministry said 711 people died in government-controlled territory. In areas of Syria’s northwest Idlib province that are mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an al-Qaeda-linked group, reports said 733 people had died.
Key Republican members of Congress are launching a two-front campaign to pressure the Biden administration to send Ukraine more advanced weapons, Defense One reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the plan.
One aspect of the campaign is to pressure Biden administration officials through closed-door briefings. The other is to apply public pressure, something Republican leadership has been doing throughout the war.
The main demand from the hawkish Republicans is for the US to provide MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, F-16 fighter jets, and Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which have a range of up to 190 miles. Providing Ukraine with either weapon would significantly escalate US military aid and bring the US and Russia closer to a direct clash.
In what Austin journalist Christopher Hooks has called “one of the stupidest news cycles in living memory,” the entire American political/media class is having an existential meltdown over what the Pentagon claims is a Chinese spy balloon detected in US airspace on Thursday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled his scheduled diplomatic visit to China after the detection of the balloon. The mass media have been covering the story with breathless excitement. China hawk pundits have been pounding the war drums all day on any platform they can get to and accusing the Biden administration of not responding aggressively enough to the incident.
“The important thing that the American people need to understand, and what we are going to try to expose in a bipartisan fashion on this committee, is that the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party is not just a distant threat in East Asia, or a threat to Taiwan,” House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher told Fox News on Friday. “It is a threat right here at home. It is a threat to American sovereignty, and it is a threat to the Midwest — in places like those that I live in.”
Economics provides an easy way to arrive at a solution to the conflict in Ukraine. Let the party that has the most at stake, the most "skin in the game," determine the solution. The party with the most skin in the game is the one that has the most at risk and, therefore, is most likely to choose the option that solves the problem in the best possible way. This applies whether the issue is running a business or choosing a foreign policy.
Here’s an example of how skin in the game works. Let’s say you’re in business with a partner. You own 80 percent of the business and your partner owns 20 percent. Who should have the greater say in how to run the business? You should. You’ve got the most to gain and lose. You’ve got the most skin in the game. This is how business law works. The party with the greater ownership share, the most skin in the game, is the one that has greater control.
Now take that same example and assume that you also know more about how to run the business than your partner. With more skin in the game and more knowledge about the business, you should definitely be the one in charge.
In the Ukraine conflict the parties with the most skin in the game are the residents of the Donbas. The war is being fought right on their doorstep. Yet even though the people of the Donbas have by far the most skin in the game, they have little say in whether the war continues or not.
Russia had diverted most of its fuel oil and vacuum gasoil (VGO) exports to Asia and the Middle East even before the EU embargo on Russian petroleum products came into effect on February 5, according to data from traders and Refinitiv cited by Reuters.
Last month, the European Union took less than 5% of Russia’s fuel oil and VGO, with Greece, Latvia, and Italy importing small volumes of those products, according to the data.
Traders believe that these volumes could easily be redirected to other destinations, mostly in Asia.
India has emerged as a large buyer of Russian fuel oil in the past two months, according to trade flow data cited by Reuters.
Cargoes diverted to Asia and the Middle East have started to increasingly use ship-to-ship (STS) loadings and transfers, especially near Kalamata in Greece, Ceuta in Spain, and Skagen in Denmark.
Syrians suffering through years of war, displacement, and brutal weather are now facing the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that killed hundreds of people.
Millions of people in northwest Syria have been left vulnerable by 12 years of conflict, according to the United Nations, which says 2.9 million people in the region have been displaced and 1.8 million are living in camps.
A steady stream of injured flowed into an overwhelmed hospital in the town of Darkush, in rebel-held northwestern Syria, after the deadly earthquake struck on Monday. Mothers hovered over crying children.
Amid the chaos, one man sat with a dazed expression, his face covered with abrasions.
The man, Osama Abdul Hamid, barely made it out alive with his wife and four children from his apartment building in the nearby village of Azmarin. Many of their neighbours were not so lucky.
The Arab League condemned on Monday “the open war and the organized Israeli crimes” against the Palestinian people, which led to the death of dozens since the beginning of this year.
Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, warned of the silence about the deterioration in the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories with the escalation by the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank.
Aboul-Gheit made the remarks during a meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, with the representative of the European Union for the peace process in the Middle East, Sven Koopmans.
To get the weapons for massive destruction, Zelensky lied and promised that the weapons would not be used to target Moscow. Kiev’s forces will not hold back when it comes to hitting locations inside Russia, according to Fyodor Venislavsky, a member of the Ukrainian parliament’s National Security, Defense, and Intelligence Committee. Speaking to Germany’s Bild tabloid on Saturday, he also described Moscow as a “legitimate military target.” The West is arming Ukraine for long-range missile attacks on Moscow. Putin and the hardliner will now have NO CHOICE and will be fully justified in nuking Ukraine to end the war the same way the United States nuked Japan.
The corruption in the Western media is astonishing. This is not being reported in the USA or Europe. It is being reported in the Middle East and in Russia. The international fake news organization, Trusted News Initiative (TNI), a consortium to control all the mainstream Western Media, is promoting World War III and we are to be told Russia is evil and we must go to war to destroy every individual Russian on the planet. There is no longer any independent journalism left. I had learned in grade school history class that the media created the Spanish American War. Pulitzer later felt guilty and donated his assets to Columbia University to hand out awards for journalists when Pulitzer was the father of yellow journalism and sheer corruption.
This coming week a new House select subcommittee will hold its first hearing on the FBI and the possible “weaponization” of government agencies. A variety of such controversies have contributed to plunging public trust in government and the FBI in particular.
The role of the FBI in prior scandals will remain a point of heated debate in Congress. However, members of both parties should be able to agree on the need to investigate one of the most serious allegations: Censorship by surrogate.
Many of the allegations of FBI bias are worthy of investigation. Some of those allegations are problems of personnel who can be removed. But a far more menacing problem has emerged in recent months with the release of information from Twitter.
The “Twitter files” revealed an FBI operation to monitor and censor social media content — an effort so overwhelming and intrusive that Twitter staff at one point complained internally that “they are probing & pushing everywhere.” The reports have indicated that dozens of FBI employees worked on the identification and removal of material on a wide range of subjects and that Twitter largely carried out their requests.
Nor was it just the FBI, apparently. Emails reveal FBI figures like a San Francisco assistant special agent in charge asking Twitter executives to “invite an OGA” (or “Other Government Organization”) to an upcoming meeting. A week later, Stacia Cardille, a senior Twitter legal executive, indicated the OGA was the CIA, an agency under strict limits regarding domestic activities.
Twitter’s own ranks included dozens of ex-FBI agents and executives, including James Baker, who featured greatly in prior FBI instances of alleged bias.