The Federal Bureau Of Tweets: Twitter Is Hiring An Alarming Number Of FBI Agents
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-10:20]

The Federal Bureau Of Tweets: Twitter Is Hiring An Alarming Number Of FBI Agents

Authored by Alan MacLeod via Mint Press News,

Twitter has been on a recruitment drive of late, hiring a host of former feds and spies. Studying a number of employment and recruitment websites, MintPress has ascertained that the social media giant has, in recent years, recruited dozens of individuals from the national security state to work in the fields of security, trust, safety and content.

Chief amongst these is the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI is generally known as a domestic security and intelligence force. However, it has recently expanded its remit into cyberspace. “The FBI’s investigative authority is the broadest of all federal law enforcement agencies,” the “About” section of its website informs readers. “The FBI has divided its investigations into a number of programs, such as domestic and international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence [and] cyber crime,” it adds.

For example, in 2019, Dawn Burton (the former director of Washington operations for Lockheed Martin) was poached from her job as senior innovation advisor to the director at the FBI to become senior director of strategy and operations for legal, public policy, trust and safety at Twitter. The following year, Karen Walsh went straight from 21 years at the bureau to become director of corporate resilience at the silicon valley giant. Twitter’s deputy general counsel and vice president of legal, Jim Baker, also spent four years at the FBI between 2014 and 2018, where his resumé notes he rose to the role of senior strategic advisor.

Meanwhile, Mark Jaroszewski ended his 21-year posting as a supervisory special agent in the Bay Area to take up a position at Twitter, rising to become director of corporate security and risk. And Douglas Turner spent 14 years as a senior special agent and SWAT Team leader before being recruited to serve in Twitter’s corporate and executive security services. Previously, Turner had also spent seven years as a secret service special agent with the Department of Homeland Security.

When asked to comment by MintPress, former FBI agent and whistleblower Coleen Rowley said that she was “not surprised at all” to see FBI agents now working for the very tech companies the agency polices, stating that there now exists a “revolving door” between the FBI and the areas they are trying to regulate. This created a serious conflict of interests in her mind, as many agents have one eye on post-retirement jobs. “The truth is that at the FBI 50% of all the normal conversations that people had were about how you were going to make money after retirement,” she said.

Many former FBI officials hold influential roles within Twitter. For instance, in 2020, Matthew W. left a 15-year career as an intelligence program manager at the FBI to take up the post of senior director of product trust at Twitter. Patrick G., a 23-year FBI supervisory special agent, is now head of corporate security. And Twitter’s director of insider risk and security investigations, Bruce A., was headhunted from his role as a supervisory special agent at the bureau. His resumé notes that at the FBI he held “[v]arious intelligence and law enforcement roles in the US, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East” and was a “human intelligence and counterintelligence regional specialist.” (On employment sites such as LinkedIn, many users choose not to reveal their full names.)

Meanwhile, between 2007 and 2021 Jeff Carlton built up a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps, rising to become a senior intelligence analyst. Between 2014 and 2017, his LinkedIn profile notes, he worked for both the CIA and FBI, authored dozens of official reports, some of which were read by President Barack Obama. Carlton describes his role as a “problem-solver” and claims to have worked in many “dynamic, high-pressure environments” such as Iraq and Korea. In May 2021, he left official service to become a senior program manager at Twitter, responsible for dealing with the company’s “highest-profile trust and safety escalations.”

Other former FBI staff are employed by Twitter, such as Cherrelle Y. as a policy domain specialist and Laura D. as a senior analyst in global risk intelligence.

Many of those listed above were active in the FBI’s public outreach programs, a practice sold as a community trust-building initiative. According to Rowley, however, these also function as “ways for officials to meet the important people that would give them jobs after retirement.” “It basically inserts a huge conflict of interest,” she told MintPress. “It warps and perverts the criminal investigative work that agents do when they are still working as agents because they anticipate getting lucrative jobs after retiring or leaving the FBI.”

Rowley – who in 2002 was named, along with two other whistleblowers, as Time magazine’s Person of the Year – was skeptical that there was anything seriously nefarious about the hiring of so many FBI agents, suggesting that Twitter could be using them as sources of information and intelligence. She stated:

Retired agents often maintained good relationships and networks with current agents. So they can call up their old buddy and find out stuff… There were certainly instances of retired agents for example trying to find out if there was an investigation of so and so. And if you are working for a company, that company is going to like that influence.”

Rowley also suggested that hiring people from various three-letter agencies gave them a credibility boost. “These [tech] companies are using the mythical aura of the FBI. They can point to somebody and say ‘oh, you can trust us; our CEO or CFO is FBI,’” she explained.

Twitter certainly has endorsed the FBI as a credible actor, allowing the organization to play a part in regulating the global dissemination of information on its platform. In September 2020, it put out a statement thanking the federal agency. “We wish to express our gratitude to the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force for their close collaboration and continued support of our work to protect the public conversation at this critical time,” the statement read.

One month later, the company announced that the FBI was feeding it intelligence and that it was complying with their requests for deletion of accounts. “Based on intel provided by the FBI, last night we removed approximately 130 accounts that appeared to originate in Iran. They were attempting to disrupt the public conversation during the first 2020 U.S. Presidential Debate,” Twitter’s safety team wrote.

Yet the evidence they supplied of this supposed threat to American democracy was notably weak. All four of the messages from this Iranian operation that Twitter itself shared showed that none of them garnered any likes or retweets whatsoever, meaning that essentially nobody saw them. This was, in other words, a completely routine cleanup operation of insignificant troll accounts. Yet the announcement allowed Twitter to present the FBI as on the side of democracy and place the idea into the public psyche that the election was under threat from foreign actors.

Iran has been a favorite Twitter target in the past. In 2009, at the behest of the U.S. government, it postponed routine maintenance of the site, which would have required taking it offline. This was because an anti-government protest movement in Tehran was using the app to communicate and the U.S. did not want the demonstrations’ regime-change potential to be stymied.

A carnival of spooks

The FBI is far from the only state security agency filling Twitter’s ranks. Shortly after leaving a 10-year career as a CIA analyst, Michael Scott Robinson was hired to become a senior policy manager for site integrity, trust and safety.

The California-based app has also recruited heavily from the Atlantic Council, a NATO cutout organization that serves as the military alliance’s think tank. The council is sponsored by NATO, led by senior NATO generals and regularly plays out regime-change scenarios in enemy states, such as China.

The Atlantic Council has been associated with many of the most egregious fake news plants of the last few years. It published a series of lurid reports alleging that virtually every political group in Europe challenging the status quo – from the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and UKIP in Great Britain to PODEMOS and Vox in Spain and Syriza and Golden Dawn in Greece – were all secretly “the Kremlin’s Trojan Horses.” Atlantic Council employee Michael Weiss was also very likely the creator of the shadowy organization PropOrNot, a group that anonymously published a list of fake-news websites that regularly peddled Kremlin disinformation. Included in this list was virtually every anti-war alternative media outlet one could think of – from MintPress to Truthout, TruthDig and The Black Agenda Report. Also included were pro-Trump websites like The Drudge Report, and liberatarian ventures like Antiwar.com and The Ron Paul Institute.

PropOrNot’s list was immediately heralded in the corporate press, and was the basis for a wholescale algorithm shift at Google and other big tech platforms, a shift that saw traffic to alternative media sites crash overnight, never to recover. Thus, the allegation of a huge (Russian) state-sponsored attempt to influence the media was itself an intelligence op by the U.S. national security state.

In 2020, Kanishk Karan left his job as a research associate at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research (DFR) Lab to join Twitter as information integrity and safety specialist – essentially helping to control what Twitter sees as legitimate information and nefarious disinformation. Another DFR Lab graduate turned Twitter employee is Daniel Weimert, who is now a senior public policy associate for Russia – a key target of the Atlantic Council. Meanwhile, Sarah Oh is simultaneously an Atlantic Council DFR Lab non-resident senior fellow and a Twitter advisor, her social media bio noting she works on “high risk trust and safety issues.”

In 2019, Twitter also hired Greg Andersen straight from NATO to work on cybercrime policy. There is sparse information on what Andersen did at NATO, but, alarmingly, his own LinkedIn profile stated simply that he worked on “psychological operations” for the military alliance. After MintPress highlighted this fact in an article in April, he removed all mention of “psychological operations” from his profile, claiming now to have merely worked as a NATO “researcher.” Andersen left Twitter in the summer of last year to work as a product policy manager for the popular video platform TikTok.

Twitter also directly employs active army officers. In 2019, Gordon Macmillan, the head of editorial for the entire Europe, Middle East and Africa region was revealed to be an officer in the British Army’s notorious 77th Brigade – a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations. This bombshell news was steadfastly ignored across the media.

Positions of power and control

With nearly 400 million global users, there is no doubt that Twitter has grown to become a platform large and influential enough to necessitate extensive security measures, as actors of all stripes attempt to use the service to influence public opinion and political actions. There is also no doubt that there is a limited pool of people qualified in these sorts of fields.

But recruiting largely from the U.S. national security state fundamentally undermines claims Twitter makes about its neutrality. The U.S. government is the source of some of the largest and most extensive influence operations in the world. As far back as 2011, The Guardian reported on the existence of a massive, worldwide U.S. military online influence campaign in which it had designed software that allowed its personnel to “secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.” The program boasts that the background of these personas is so convincing that psychological operations soldiers can be sure to work “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.” Yet Twitter appears to be recruiting from the source of the problem.

These former national security state officials are not being employed in politically neutral departments such as sales or customer service, but in security, trust and content, meaning that some hold considerable sway over what messages and information are promoted, and what is suppressed, demoted or deleted.

It could be said that poachers-turned-gamekeepers often play a crucial role in safety and protection, as they know how bad actors think and operate. But there exists little evidence that any of these national security state operatives have changed their stances. Twitter is not hiring whistleblowers or dissidents. It appears, then, that some of these people are essentially doing the same job they were doing before, but now in the private sector. And few are even acknowledging that there is anything wrong with moving from big government to big tech, as if the U.S. national security state and the fourth estate are allies, rather than adversaries.

That Twitter is already working so closely with the FBI and other agencies makes it easy for them to recruit from the federal pool. As Rowley said, “over a period of time these people will be totally in sync with the mindset of Twitter and other social media platforms. So from the company’s standpoint, they are not hiring somebody new. They already know this person. They know where they stand on things.”

Is there a problem?

Some might ask “What is the problem with Twitter actively recruiting from the FBI, CIA and other three-letter agencies?” They, after all, are experts in studying online disinformation and propaganda. One is optical. If a Russian-owned social media app’s trust, security and content moderation was run by former KGB or FSB agents and still insisted it was a politically neutral platform, the entire world would laugh.

But apart from this, the huge influx of security state personnel into Twitter’s decision-making ranks means that the company will start to view every problem in the same manner as the U.S. government does – and act accordingly. “In terms of their outlooks on the world and on the question of misinformation and internet security, you couldn’t get a better field of professionals who are almost inherently going to be more in tune with the government’s perspective,” Rowley said.

Thus, when policing the platform for disinformation and influence campaigns, the former FBI and CIA agents and Atlantic Council fellows only ever seem to find them emanating from enemy states and never from the U.S. government itself. This is because their backgrounds and outlooks condition them to consider Washington to be a unique force for good.

This one-sided view of disinformation can be seen by studying the reports Twitter has published on state-linked information operations. The entire list of countries it has identified as engaging in these campaigns are as follows: Russia (in 7 reports), Iran (in 5 reports), China (4 reports), Saudi Arabia (4 reports), Venezuela (3 reports), Egypt (2 reports), Cuba, Serbia, Bangladesh, the UAE, Ecuador, Ghana, Nigeria, Honduras, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand, Armenia, Spain, Tanzania, Mexico and Uganda.

One cannot help noticing that this list correlates quite closely to a hit list of U.S. government adversaries. All countries carry out disinfo campaigns to a certain extent. But these “former” spooks and feds are unlikely to point the finger at their former colleagues or sister organizations or investigate their operations.

The Cold (cyber)war

Twitter has mirrored U.S. hostility towards states like Russia, China, Iran and Cuba, attempting to suppress the reach and influence of their state media by adding warning messages to the tweets of journalists and accounts affiliated with those governments. “State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution,” it noted.

In a rather bizarre addendum, it explained that it would not be doing the same to state-affiliated media or personalities from other countries, least of all the U.S. “State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the U.K. or NPR in the U.S. for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy,” it wrote. It did not explain how it decided that Cuban, Russian, Chinese or Iranian journalists did not have editorial independence, but British and American ones did – this was taken for granted. The effect of the action has been a throttling of ideas and narratives from enemy states and an amplification of those coming from Western state media.

As the U.S. ramps up tensions with Beijing, so too has Twitter aggressively shut down pro-China voices on its platform. In 2020, it banned 170,000 accounts it said were “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China,” such as praising its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic or expressing opposition to the Hong Kong protests, both of which are majority views in China. Importantly, the Silicon Valley company did not claim that these accounts were controlled by the government; merely sharing these opinions was grounds enough for deletion.

The group behind Twitter’s decision to ban those Chinese accounts was the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a deeply controversial think tank funded by the Pentagon, the State Department and a host of weapons manufacturers. ASPI has constantly peddled conspiracy theories about China and called for ramping up tensions with the Asian nation.

ASPI - The Gov’t-Funded Conspiracist Think Tank Now Controlling Your Social Media Feed

Perhaps most notable, however, was Twitter’s announcement last year that it was deleting dozens of accounts for the new violation of “undermining faith in the NATO alliance.” The statement was widely ridiculed online by users. But few noted that the decision was based upon a partnership with the Stanford Internet Observatory, a counter-disinformation think tank filled with former spooks and state officials and headed by an individual who is on the advisory board of NATO’s Collective Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. That Twitter is working so closely with organizations that are clearly intelligence industry catspaws should concern all users.

Not just Twitter

While some might be alarmed that Twitter is cultivating such an intimate relationship with the FBI and other groups belonging to the secret state, it is perhaps unfair to single it out, as many social media platforms are doing the same. Facebook, for example, has entered into a formal partnership with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, whereby the latter holds significant influence over 2.9 billion users’ news feeds, helping to decide what content to promote and what content to suppress. The NATO cutout organization now serves as Facebook’s “eyes and ears,” according to a Facebook press release. Anti-war and anti-establishment voices across the world have reported massive drops in traffic on the platform.

The social media giant also hired former NATO Press Secretary Ben Nimmo to be its head of intelligence. Nimmo subsequently used his power to attempt to swing the election in Nicaragua away from the leftist Sandinista Party and towards the far-right, pro-U.S. candidate, deleting hundreds of left-wing voices in the week of the election, claiming they were engaging in “inauthentic behavior.” When these individuals (including some well-known personalities) poured onto Twitter, recording video messages proving they were not bots, Twitter deleted those accounts too, in what one commentator called a Silicon Valley “double tap strike.”

An April MintPress study revealed how TikTok, too, has been filling its organization with alumni of the Atlantic Council, NATO, the CIA and the State Department. As with Twitter, these new TikTok employees largely work in highly politically sensitive fields such as trust, safety, security and content moderation, meaning these state operatives hold influence over the direction of the company and what content is promoted and what is demoted.

Likewise, in 2017, content aggregation site Reddit plucked Jessica Ashooh from the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Strategy Task Force to become its new director of policy, despite the fact that she had few relevant qualifications or experience in the field.

Jessica Ashooh: The Taming of Reddit and the National Security State Plant Tabbed to Do It

In corporate media too, we have seen a widespread infiltration of former security officials into the upper echelons of news organizations. So normalized is the penetration of the national security state into the media that is supposed to be holding it to account, that few reacted in 2015 when Dawn Scalici left her job as national intelligence manager for the Western hemisphere at the Director of National Intelligence to become the global business director of international news conglomerate Thomson Reuters. Scalici, a 33-year CIA veteran who had worked her way up to become a director in the organization, was open about what her role was. In a blog post on the Reuters website, she wrote that she was there to “meet the disparate needs of the U.S. Government” – a statement that is at odds with even the most basic journalistic concepts of impartiality and holding the powerful to account.

Meanwhile, cable news outlets routinely employ a wide range of “former” agents and mandarins as trusted personalities and experts. These include former CIA Directors John Brennan (NBC, MSNBC) and Michael Hayden (CNN), ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (CNN), and former Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend (CBS). And news for so many Americans comes delivered through ex-CIA interns like Anderson Cooper (CNN), CIA-applicants like Tucker Carlson (Fox), or by Mika Brzezinski (MSNBC), the daughter of a powerful national security advisor. The FBI has its own former agents on TV as well, with talking heads such as James Gagliano (Fox), Asha Rangappa (CNN) and Frank Figliuzzi (NBC, MSNBC) becoming household names. In short, then, the national security state once used to infiltrate the media. Today, however, the national security state is the media.

Social media holds enormous influence in today’s society. While this article is not alleging that anyone mentioned is a bad actor or does not genuinely care about the spread of disinformation, it is highlighting a glaring conflict of interest. Through its agencies, the U.S. government regularly plants fake news and false information. Therefore, social media hiring individuals straight from the FBI, CIA, NATO and other groups to work on regulating disinformation is a fundamentally flawed practice. One of media’s primary functions is to serve as a fourth estate; a force that works to hold the government and its agencies to account. Yet instead of doing that, increasingly it is collaborating with them. Such are these increasing interlocking connections that it is becoming increasingly difficult to see where big government ends and big media begins.

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 22:20
Pozsar Was Right Again: Shipping Costs Soar 82,000% Amid Global Supply Chain Chaos After Ukraine
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-10:00]

Pozsar Was Right Again: Shipping Costs Soar 82,000% Amid Global Supply Chain Chaos After Ukraine

Several months ago, Credit Suisse strategist and former NY Fed "liquidity plumber" Zoltan Pozsar predicted that as a result of Russian commodity exports being shunned by western nations and/or distributors while greeted by eastern nations (such as India and China) would would find delight in the 30% discount to spot on Russian oil, shipping costs would soar as a result of the challenging - and expensive - realignment of global supply chains which would see legacy tanker flows be scrapped only to be resurrected in the form of much more expensive alternatives.

Well, Pozsar was right again because four months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the resulting dislocation of global fuel markets has lead to a surge in shipping costs of products such as diesel by sea.

Rates to haul fuels such as gasoline and diesel, known in the industry as clean tanker freight, have more than doubled this year to the highest since April 2020, according to Baltic Exchange data. On one key route in Asia, ship owners are now earning over $47,000 a day transporting products from South Korea to the distribution hub of Singapore, compared with $98 a day prior to the war.

The Russian invasion has exacerbated a tightening of energy markets, upending trade flows and forcing buyers to scour the world for alternative fuel supplies, according to Bloomberg. At the same time, an initial surge in rates for hauling crude hasn’t been sustained, partly due to reduced demand from China, leading to some shipowners switching part of their fleet to haul fuels rather than oil, according to two tanker charterers.

The last time clean tanker freight rates were this elevated was in early 2020, after the pandemic decimated oil consumption and forced fuel producers to export as much product as possible to alleviate swelling storage tanks. Now, we are observing a mirror image of that predicament as demand for ships to haul fuels is expected to climb by 6% this year, underpinned by Europe, said Anoop Singh, head of tanker research at Braemar ACM Shipbroking.

"The European resolve to reduce reliance on Russian supplies will likely outlive the war in Ukraine and that will re-draw trade routes,” said Singh, who notes that Russia was the single largest external supplier of diesel to Europe prior to the war.

Furthermore, and also as Zoltan predicted, more long-range class ships are being used to transport refined fuels since the invasion in late February, according to S&P analysts Fotios Katsoulas and Krispen Atkinson. Longer voyages are reducing the amount of available capacity on vessels and driving up freight rates, they said. LR tankers are the most common and are used to carry both products and oil.

The surge in rates is being replicated across other regions. Ship owners transporting fuel from the Middle East to Japan on a route known as TC-5 -- a key passage for naphtha -- were earning more than $50,000 a day on Wednesday, compared with as low as $61 a day in February, an 82000% increase,  according to Baltic Exchange data. The cost of shipping fuel from the US to Brazil on the TC-18 route was near $37,000 a day, up "more modestly", from $3,800 a day four months ago.

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 22:00
Victor Davis Hanson: Why The Left Will Cut Biden Loose
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-09:40]

Victor Davis Hanson: Why The Left Will Cut Biden Loose

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson,

Republican pundits and conservative activists are debating whether they can win in 2024 with the successful Trump agenda, but without the controversial former President Donald Trump as their nominee.

The Democrats have a similar, but far more serious dilemma with President Joe Biden as the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2024.

Unlike the Trump Administration’s successful four years, Biden’s tenure has been an utter disaster. There are no policy offsets to the personal liabilities and unpopularity of Biden himself.

Biden’s liabilities transcend his physical infirmities, his advanced age, and his seeming geometric rather than arithmetic rate of mental decline.

Biden, moreover, proves daily that he is not a nice guy. His excesses, past and present, are precisely those the Left considers mortal sins.

Walking back Biden’s absurdities has become the nonstop, tiresome task of many on the Left. As they face a midterm disaster in November, many no longer see any compensating reasons not to drop Biden.

When the Republicans take the House of Representatives in 2022 there will be nonstop investigations of Hunter Biden’s alleged tax avoidances, his possibly illegal work as an unregistered foreign agent, and Joe Biden’s untaxed compensation he received from the Biden lobbying consortium.

Consider also Biden’s nastiness.

During the 2020 campaign he personally attacked a young co-ed as a “lying dog-faced pony soldier” and a stocky questioner was reduced to “fat.”

Unlike Trump’s art of the deal, exaggerations, and distortions, Biden says things that are not simply untrue, but abjectly preposterous — such as the United States currently has a lower inflation rate than major European industrial powers.

In Biden’s world, there were no COVID-19 vaccinations until he took the oath of office. Russian President Vladimir Putin, or the oil companies, or the refiners, or Trump are responsible for the historic crippling gasoline price hikes he caused by canceling drilling and pipeline projects.

Biden claims his negative-growth, hyperinflating economy is not disastrous but strong.

He serially lies that he drove a semi-truck. He has not been to the Middle East 38 times. He never received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Nor was he a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The MAGA movement is not the “most extreme political organization in American history.”

In other words, Biden reveals the same fantasies and plagiarism that ended his 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns.

On matters of race and sexuality, Biden is the epitome of that for which the Left, supposedly, has zero tolerance. Biden was infamous for damning with praise candidate Barack Obama as the first “clean” and “articulate” African American presidential candidate.

In a fake patois, Biden once warned an audience of black professionals that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.”

During the 2020 campaign, candidate Biden derided a black journalist as a “junkie” and lambasted a radio host and his audience with the claim “you ain’t black” if they didn’t support his candidacy.

Spinning racialist fables like Biden’s “Corn Pop” stories would brand any conservative politician as a racist. As president, Biden still uses the term “negro,” and he called an African American advisor “boy.”

On disturbing matters of sexuality, Biden is even more coarse.

After the Justice Brett Kavanaugh hearings, the nation was lectured that “women must be believed.” But it was the Left who attacked former Biden aide Tara Reade who surfaced in 2016 to accuse then Senator Biden, her former boss, of sexually assaulting her.

Biden himself had a creepy history of invading the private space of young women — inappropriately kissing them, hugging and squeezing them, and smelling and blowing into their hair and ears.

Finally, Biden was forced to apologize — sort of — by claiming he belonged to an earlier generation when such aggression was simply normal behavior. It was not then or now.

The latest controversies whirl around the British tabloid Daily Mail’s publication of the diary of Biden’s own daughter.

From the Mail’s lurid reporting, Ashley Biden seems to suggest that she showered with her father at an age when “showers w/ my dad (probably [were] not appropriate).” And she seemed to connect Biden familial inappropriateness with her regret over being “hyper-sexualized (at) a young age.”

When Trump was accused by porn star Stormy Daniels of a consensual tryst or was caught on old Access Hollywood tape crudely boasting about touching inappropriately female admirers, the resulting uproar nearly derailed the Trump 2016 campaign.

The point is not just the asymmetrical treatment that has shielded Biden’s cognitive decline, his rude outbursts, his outrageous racialist slurs, and bizarre sexual aggressiveness.

Instead, the Left now fears Biden’s terrible polls and a worse record - and the resulting damage he is doing to the Democratic Party.

In such a losing political context, Democrats will soon find no further reason to cover for Biden’s own serial abhorrent personal behavior on matters of financial probity, sex, race, and truthfulness.

No wonder they are growing desperate to find ways to cut him loose - without making Vice President Kamala Harris his successor.

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 21:40
North Dakota AG Investigates Bill Gates Farmland Purchase
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-09:20]

North Dakota AG Investigates Bill Gates Farmland Purchase

The North Dakota Attorney General's office is investigating a land transaction involving one of the biggest farmland owners in America, billionaire Bill Gates. 

In a letter dated June 21, Attorney General Drew Wrigley's office asked the Red River Trust, an entity connected to Gates, about a recent purchase of a multi-thousand-acre potato farm, according to local news KFYR.

Wrigley's office informed the trust that all corporations or limited liability companies are strictly "prohibited from owning or leasing farmland or ranchland in the state of North Dakota" and "engaging in farming or ranching."

"In addition, the law places certain limitations on the ability of trusts to own farmland or ranchland," the letter said.

Red River Trust has 30 days to respond from June 21 to Kerrie Helm, the AG's Corporate Farming Enforcement Division, about the farm purchase.

"Our office needs to confirm how your company uses this land and whether this use meets any of the statutory exceptions, such as the business purpose exception, so that we may close this case and file it in our inactive files," the letter continued.

A corporation or LLC "found in violation" of the anti-corporate farming laws could face harsh penalties, such as a $100k fine and one year to divest the land. 

AgWeek revealed the trust spent $13.5 million on a 2,100-acre potato farm in Pembina County in November 2021.

North Dakota AG Commissioner Doug Goehring told KFYR that many people across the state are "upset" and "livid" about the billionaire purchasing farmland. 

Over the years, Gates has quietly amassed 270,000 acres of farmland across the country through personal investment vehicles, though still a small slice of the nearly 900 million total farm acres.

Gates isn't alone. Other billionaires, including Amazon's Jeff Bezos, have recently increased farmland holdings. 

Could this be why billionaires are buying so much farmland? 

Rockefeller Foundation President did warn a "massive, immediate food crisis" is on the horizon. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 21:20
Four Injured In New Zealand After Mass Stabbing Attack
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-09:00]

Four Injured In New Zealand After Mass Stabbing Attack

Authored by Rebecca Zhu via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A New Zealand man has injured four people in a random “fast-paced” mass stabbing attack with a large kitchen knife before police arrived and apprehended him.

Police tape surrounds a scene associated with a suspicious death at another property on Farmer Crescent in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, on Sept. 21, 2012. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The victims and the offender, who was also wounded, have been confirmed as sustaining “moderate” injuries.

The man began stabbing people in Murrays Bay, Auckland, at around 11 a.m. local time, then walked to Mairangi Bay, where members of the public helped stop the rampage, including someone who reportedly used a crutch to trip the offender.

Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan told reporters that if the public did not intervene to stop the attack, it could have ended “a lot worse.”

A number of members of the public were following him, and eventually, one of them intervened,” she said. “It could’ve been a lot worse, and that’s why I really need to acknowledge the bravery of those members of the public that intervened to bring this to a conclusion.

Hassan acknowledged that the incident was “extremely traumatic” for the victims and wanted to assure the public that it was an “isolated incident.”

She also emphasised that the attack was “random” and not a “hate crime.”

“The victims were of different gender, ethnicity, and age,” Hassan said.

The offender is currently in custody under police guard at Auckland City Hospital and will be undergoing further assessments.

‘He Just Started Running At Me’

A local woman told the New Zealand Herald that she had run away screaming for help after a man with a “big knife” chased her off Murrays Bay beach.

“I was wearing headphones and went to take the headphones off to talk to him [when he approached] because that’s what I thought he wanted,” she said.

However, the woman’s gut instinct told her something was wrong, putting her on edge before he “just started running at me,” she said.

The woman immediately called the police when she managed to shake the man off her tracks. The police arrived 10 minutes later, but she did not witness the arrest.

Another witness said the man chased after a young girl who screamed.

“We thought she was being silly, she was shrieking,” she told Stuff News. “He stabbed two people, totally random … it all happened very quickly.

“He then tried to stab another teenage girl, but she got away.”

Police will be increasing their local presence as a result of the incident.

The attack is the latest in a string of crime incidents in New Zealand as the country experiences what has been called a significant crime wave.

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 21:00
Federal Jury: City Must Pay $59,657 After SWAT Team Wrecks Innocent Woman's House
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-08:40]

Federal Jury: City Must Pay $59,657 After SWAT Team Wrecks Innocent Woman's House

After a SWAT team wrecked an innocent woman's house, the city of McKinney, Texas essentially told her "tough luck" and refused to compensate her. In a case that could have nationwide property rights implications, a federal jury on Wednesday awarded her $59,656.59 in damages—and more may be coming. 

The jury award follows an April 29 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant III that the city's "intentional and foreseeable" destruction of Vicki Baker's house constituted a government "taking" that compelled the city to pay just compensation. 

Vicki Baker's damaged house after the SWAT team attacked it
Vicki Baker's house after a SWAT team attacked it

The case marks a "sea change in the law," according to Baker's attorney, Jeffrey Redfern of the liberty-minded Institute for Justice: 

"Everyone agrees with the general proposition that the government has to pay for the property it takes, but courts across the country had held that this rule just did not apply to the police. But the police are part of the government, which this victory makes abundantly clear.” 

Baker is likely to receive additional compensation: The jury also found that the city's refusal to pay Baker constituted a violation of her civil rights, making the city liable under federal civil rights law too. 

It all started in July 2020, when a fugitive took shelter in Baker's suburban Dallas home, which had just gone under contract for sale after she'd renovated it. Baker, who had recently beaten cancer and was retiring to Montana, notified police and a standoff ensued.

Eventually, McKinney police decided to attack the house with a BearCat armored vehicle, breaking windows and their frames, destroying the garage door, leveling the backyard fence, knocking down the front door, and firing approximately 30 tear gas containers into the home, which broke drywall. Baker's daughter's dog was blinded and deafened in the attack. When police entered, they found the fugitive had already committed suicide.

A demolished window, frame and all
One of multiple windows destroyed by the SWAT team—frame and all

"I contacted the city of McKinney and asked how to file suit against them for recovery. I was told...there was absolutely no possible recovery, that the city had never paid such a claim and they had no intention of doing that," said Baker. 

Naturally, Baker's homebuyer backed out of the deal. She proceeded to spend months and tens of thousands of dollars putting the house back in order.

The SWAT team's extensive use of tear gas meant that, in addition to fixing the damage already described, Baker had to hire a hazardous materials remediation team to clean the entire house. Carpets had to be replaced. To cover the expense, she withdrew money from her IRA and ran up over $20,000 on her credit cards.

Her repeated follow-ups with the city culminated in a letter from an entity that manages liability claims for Texas governments. It read: 

"Based on the facts, we have concluded that there is no liability on the part of the City or any of its employees. Per our discussion, the officers have immunity while in the course and scope of their job duties. For this reason, we must respectfully decline this claim in its entirety." 

The city of McKinney, Texas told Vicki Baker it had no responsibility for this and other destruction throughout her home

Destruction by government action is a standard exclusion in homeowners insurance policies. If the city of McKinney didn't compensate Baker, she'd have to bear the entire cost of the SWAT team's mayhem. 

Enter the Institute for Justice, a national civil liberties law firm on a mission "to end widespread abuses of government power and secure the constitutional rights that allow all Americans to pursue their dreams." 

The Institute for Justice worked with Baker to file a federal suit in March 2021 against the city, arguing that its decision to wreck Baker's home without compensation violated both the Texas and U.S. constitutions. 

"The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Fifth Amendment's takings clause 'was designed to bar government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole'," said attorney Jeffrey Redfern in an Institute for Justice video that explained the case (embedded below).  

“Pursuing a fugitive is a legitimate government interest, but if the government deliberately destroys innocent people’s property in the process, those people must be compensated,” said Institute for Justice attorney Will Aronin.

“My priority has always been to make sure that cities like McKinney cannot treat other people the way I’ve been treated,” said Baker. “I expect today’s victory to send a message to governments across the country that they have to pay for what they break.”  

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 20:40
Mistake To Recommend COVID-19 Vaccines For All Children: Top Danish Health Official
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-08:20]

Mistake To Recommend COVID-19 Vaccines For All Children: Top Danish Health Official

Authored by Zachary Steiber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

COVID-19 vaccines should not have been recommended for all children aged 5 and up, a top Danish health official has said.

Director of Denmark's National Board of Health Søren Brostrøm addresses a press conference to explain why the AstraZeneca vaccine is stopped in Denmark, in Copenhagen, on April 14, 2021. (Philip Davali / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP via Getty Images)

Søren Brostrøm, the director general of the Danish Health Authority, told TV 2 that it was a mistake to broadly vaccinate children based on the knowledge that has accumulated since late 2021.

Children aged 5 to 15 were advised to get a vaccine then, as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 became dominant around the world.

I want to look all parents of children who have vaccinated their child in the eye and say, ‘You did the right thing and thank you for listening,'” Brostrøm said.

“But at the same time—and this is the important thing to maintain confidence—I will admit and say that we have become wiser and we would not do the same today. And we will not do that in the future either,” he added.

Studies on the effects of the vaccines have shown that they confer little protection against infection from the virus. Research has also increasingly indicated that the vaccines do not protect well against severe disease in children, who are largely at little risk from severe outcomes if they get the virus.

Denmark’s new vaccine strategy recommends adults get vaccinated but specifies different advice for children.

Children and adolescents only very rarely have a serious course of COVID-19 with the Omicron variant, which is why the offer of primary vaccination for children between 5 and 17 years will not be a general offer, but can be given after specific medical assessment,” authorities said on Wednesday.

At the same time, Brostrøm encouraged adults to get vaccinated and, if they already have received a primary series, to get a booster, and if they’ve already received a booster, to get a second booster due to waning protection against Omicron.

He said the country did well amid the pandemic in the winter of 2021 even though it removed restrictions due to vaccination. “The strategy for the coming winter is also that the vaccines should get us through a new wave without restriction,” he said in a statement.

Like many nations, Denmark offers Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Both have two-dose primary series.

As of June 15, approximately 85 percent of Danes have received one vaccine dose, about 77 percent have received two or three doses, and about 66 percent have received four doses, according to the Danish Vaccination Register.

About 40 percent of children have been vaccinated.

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 20:20
What Is Stagflation And Why Has The Establishment Been In Denial About It?
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-08:00]

What Is Stagflation And Why Has The Establishment Been In Denial About It?

Unless you were an adult living in the US through the crisis of the 1970s into the early 1980s, you probably have no memory or experience with the concept of stagflation.  In general, most economic downturns involve deflationary pressures only, and lead to moderate recession events that cause job losses and higher poverty but nothing that has the potential to crash the entire system.   Stagflation is a different threat entirely.

There is a considerable amount of disinformation circulating these days about what stagflation is and whether or not we are in the middle of such a crisis.  Much of the disinfo has been perpetuated by the Biden White House and the mainstream media.  In short, they've been denying that the danger exists even though all the signs are right in front of us.  When liars get caught, they often gaslight instead of admitting defeat.

Stagflation is basically a combination of deflationary conditions in some areas of the economy coupled with price inflation in other areas, including necessities.  The mainstream narrative is that technical stagflation requires “high unemployment” along with rising prices, but this is simply not true.  At the height of stagflation crisis under President Jimmy Carter in 1980, the unemployment rate was only 7%, which is not great but also not “high” historically.  Stagflation was considered a national problem through the 1970s and yet the average unemployment rate during that decade was 5.4%.

In other words, anyone that claims that you “must have” high unemployment before you can have stagflation is being dishonest.  High unemployment is often a side effect of stagflation at the end of the cycle, but not a requirement for stagflation to begin.

Signs of stagflation include:  Falling or stagnant GDP, falling retail sales, falling PMI (manufacturing and services), falling or stagnant wages, declining stock markets, etc.  When these circumstances are coupled to the loss of buying power in a currency and rising prices in most goods and utilities, then you have stagflation.  

This kind of instability is perhaps the worst of all worlds because prices continue to increase even though demand is falling.  It signals a severe problem with a nation's currency system, or a collapsing supply chain or both.  The root systems of the entire economy are rotten, this is the only way that stagflation can happen.  

The initial trigger for the stagflationary conditions of the 1970s was the removal of the US dollar from the last vestiges of the gold standard under Nixon (at the behest of global central bankers).  The US eventually escaped the crisis by exporting inflation overseas as the dollar's share of global trade increased as the world reserve currency.  Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker also jacked up interest rates to around 20%, which did ultimately lead to an unemployment rate of 11% in the 1980s and dragged prices down enough to stop the bubble.

Will this happen again?  It's hard to say, but current dynamics suggest that prices will not stop rising for many months to come, and GDP, retail, PMI, wages, and other areas of the economy are now in decline.  We are, in fact, in the middle of a stagflation event.  Unfortunately we cannot export our inflation anymore because US dollar usage overseas is in decline.  This means more dollars in circulation within the US, and that means continued price spikes.  

The corporate media has made a concerted effort to downplay the notion of stagflation in the public sphere until recently.  This is most likely because of the panic that would take place should people actually be made aware of the gravity of the threat.  There is also the theory that certain groups of people (Great Reset globalists) would benefit greatly from economic turmoil, and the less the public is made aware of the danger the more unprepared they will be for the crisis.  The more unprepared people are, the easier they are to control through fear and through government handouts.

Solutions to stagflation vary according to specific circumstances, but since the most viable cause would be instability in the currency, that means the currency system as a whole needs to be addressed.  Supply chain issues can be dealt with over time by increasing PRIVATE manufacturing and production within a country (not government nationalization of manufacturing or price controls).  If people start making some of their own goods at home while localizing production for necessities like food and energy, then prices will inevitably come down.  However, currency devaluation requires a wider solution.  

Local communities and states could create their own currency scrip to help offset dollar devaluation.  States could create their own banking institutions, much like North Dakota has done, to help fund local industry and alleviate credit pressures.  At the national level, the dollar could be coupled to some form of commodity standard such as a gold standard and this would have immediate effects on inflation, slowing it down or stopping it completely.  Finally, there could be a moratorium on government deficit spending.  This would mean shrinking the size of government substantially, but frankly that could only be a good thing.  And finally, ending the Federal Reserve would put an end to the stimulus and QE that created the crisis in the first place.   

Obviously none of these solutions would be endorsed by the Biden Administration and they might even try to stop individual states from implementing their own fixes.  It will be up to state governments and communities to defy Biden and cure the stagflationary curse before it destroys everything.      

 

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 20:00
"I Don't Believe In Censoring Art": Paramount CEO Rejects Trigger Warnings
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-07:40]

"I Don't Believe In Censoring Art": Paramount CEO Rejects Trigger Warnings

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Paramount CEO Bob Bakish has refused to add trigger warnings to the company’s historical content, asserting, “I don’t believe in censoring art.”

Bakish says the back catalogue for the film studio’s new subscription streaming service Paramount+ will not be censored to please modern politically correct sensibilities.

“By definition, you have some things that were made in a different time and reflect different sensibilities,” Bakish said.

“I don’t believe in censoring art that was made historically, that’s probably a mistake. It’s all on-demand – you don’t have to watch anything you don’t want to.”

As we have previously highlighted, other streaming platforms and broadcasters have censored or outright deleted old shows and movies for containing so-called ‘offensive’ content.

Earlier this year, UK streaming platform ITV Player censored a “homophobic” line from the 2002 Spiderman movie when Spiderman says to Bonesaw, “That’s a cute outfit. Did your husband give it to you?”

During the height of the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots, UK broadcaster Sky also tagged numerous movies, some little over a decade old, with a message warning viewers that they might be offensive.

“This film has outdated attitudes, language and cultural depictions which may cause offence today,” stated the trigger warning.

During the same year, PBS removed Gone With the Wind from its platform, in the process erasing the first black female actress to win an Oscar, while the BBC also announced it was removing Little Britain from its schedule despite the fact that the TV comedy series satirizes every demographic, often highlighting small minded attitudes of bigots.

Last year, NBC also announced that it was scanning 17,000 hours of past WWE content to weed out “racist” material in order to avoid it appearing on the network’s new Peacock streaming device.

Iconic historical books are also being re-written to reflect ‘modern attitudes’, including George Orwell’s 1984.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 19:40
Tata Technologies' CEO Puts India In The Semiconductor Spotlight
  [Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml 2022/06/24-07:20]

Tata Technologies' CEO Puts India In The Semiconductor Spotlight

As focus turns to a new cooperation between BRIC nations as a result of Western sanctions on Russia, some are also asking whether or not India is going to be a key player in the new global semiconductor industry. 

Raja Manickam, CEO of Tata Technologies was out this week making the case for India and Southeast Asia as a destination for chipmakers, according to Nikkei. His case is that the country has an attractive location with easy access to shipping routes. 

"It's always location, location and location," Raja said this week while talking at a semiconductor conference organized by the SEMI industry association. He criticized where semi manufacturing currently takes place in Asia, calling the area prone to "geopolitical worries" and "natural disasters".

Taiwan and South Korea are currently the two leading players in the industry and both countries face renewed tensions with China and North Korea, the report points out. 

The Indian government has already put into place a $10 billion incentive program to develop a semiconductor ecosystem. 

Raja continued: "The government has done its part and the respective states are also competing with their own incentive packages. It is on the part of the Indian private sector to step up."

He also made his case for the industry needing India just as much as India could use the productive capacity: "Many big semiconductor [companies] have research and development based in India, so it's only logical for the research centers to be surrounded by manufacturing plants."

He pointed out that India "offers a massive end-user market".

Loy Hwee Chuan, executive director for telecommunications, media and technology at Singapore's DBS Bank, was in agreeance with Raja. Chuan said: "[The] overall semiconductor market in India is expected to grow at [an] 18.8% compound annual growth rate, reaching $64 billion in 2026. We would be able to see more investments in India and Southeast Asia as manufacturers adopt the 'China plus one' strategy."

Raja concluded: "When Tata does something, its usually huge and Tata Sons Chairman Chandra (Natarajan Chandrasekaran) has already signaled that semiconductors is going to be one of his key priorities."

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 19:20